High blood pressure

Your blood pressure is a measurement of how ‘hard’ your heart is working to push blood around your body, through the blood vessels. The more blood that your heart pumps and the narrower your blood vessels are, the higher your blood pressure will be. It can be a ‘silent’ killer and if you are unaware of your blood pressure then it is worth having it checked by your GP.

How is blood pressure measured?

Blood pressure is recorded as two numbers:

Systolic pressure – the force when your heart contracts and pumps blood

Diastolic pressure – indicates the force used when your heart relaxes and fills with blood

Normal blood pressure is below 120/80 mm Hg. High blood pressure is systolic of 140 or higher and diastolic of 80 or higher.

The main 2 categories are high and low blood pressure:


1 in 4 women has Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure. This means that your blood pressure is consistently higher than the recommended level (exceeding 140/80 mm Hg). This can put you at risk of having a heart attack or stroke. Significant lifestyle changes can help reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure.


Hypotension, otherwise known as low blood pressure, is when your BP is less than 90/60 mm Hg. This indicates that pressure of your blood circulating around your body is inadequate and could mean that certain organs are not receiving enough blood. It can be just as serious as high blood pressure and should not be ignored.

You can assess your blood pressure risk using the tool developed by the American Heart Association.