Blood pressure is a measurement of the pressure created as the heart pumps blood through the veins and arteries of the body, and normal blood pressure is the reading which most healthy adults have when their blood pressure is tested. Hypertension, or high blood pressure, can be very dangerous, as can hypotension, low blood pressure. The normal value for healthy young adults is around 120/80, while children tend to have slightly lower blood pressure, and older people have blood pressure which may be slightly higher. If your blood pressure exceeds 140/90, you will probably be asked to consider treating it, first with dietary changes and possibly with medication as well. The goal for healthy people is to achieve and maintain normal blood pressure.
The two values in a blood pressure measurement are the systolic and diastolic pressure. Systolic pressure is the high point, the moment when the heart contracts to push blood throughout the body. Diastolic pressure is the lowest point, when the heart relaxes and fills with blood before it pumps again. To measure blood pressure, a medical professional uses a sphygmomanometer, a device which can measure arterial blood pressure. Arterial blood pressure is measured because blood pressure values slowly decline as blood travels through the body, making arterial blood pressure a more accurate measure of health. A deviation from normal blood pressure suggests a medical problem.
When a patient's blood pressure is taken, a cuff or pressure sleeve is placed on the arm above the elbow. Blood pressure is taken at rest, with the legs and arms relaxed and the back supported. The cuff is inflated to apply pressure, causing the pulse in the radial artery to momentarily disappear. Next, the cuff is slowly deflated, to measure how much pressure the heart uses to open the artery which was temporarily blocked by the cuff. In the case of a patient with normal blood pressure, the value is recorded and the patient is often congratulated on his or her normal blood pressure value.
At routine medical examinations, blood pressure is always taken because it can indicate underlying health problems, while normal blood pressure can suggest that the patient is in good health. Some patients with abnormal blood pressure exhibit no symptoms, and may be unaware of the problem until it is brought to their attention in a medical office. Many factors can influence blood pressure levels including diet, exercise, physical conditions, stress, and tension. These are taken into account when looking at a blood pressure values, and if the patient is under extreme stress, he or she may be asked to relax so that a normal blood pressure reading can be taken.
In an abnormal blood pressure reading is obtained, usually it will be checked again to ensure that it is correct. If the reading is accurate, the doctor will talk to the patient about his or her lifestyle and habits, to see if a cause for the abnormal reading can be figured out. Doctor and patient will also discuss lifestyle changes which could be made to fix the problem, and the doctor may schedule follow-up appointments to rule out other medical problems through routine testing. During these follow-up appointments, the patient will be routinely tested until he or she has reached a level of normal blood pressure, at which point a maintenance regimen will be established.