Why should I care about my blood pressure? (blood pressure simplified)

Why should you care about your blood pressure?  We all know that high blood pressure is bad, but why?  Is low blood pressure good?  Let’s understand what each number means.  Then we will discuss why there is an ideal range best for our hearts and bodies to work their best.

The top number is called systolic.  This number represents how hard your heart is working.  This is called cardiac output.  There is an ideal range where your heart is at its most efficient.  If the number is too low, you would notice dizziness when sitting or standing up.  If the number is too high, you might be getting headaches.

The bottom number is called diastolic.  This number represents how easy it is for your blood to flow through the vessels and arterioles.  This is called peripheral resistance.  For your blood to go through your whole network of vessels and arterioles, the blood needs to be the right consistency and the vessels need to be open and not blocked.  In other words, your blood could be thick because of too many lipids (cholesterol) or too much calcium.  Or you could have blockages in the vessels and arterioles.  This happens because normal wear and tear is breaking vessel walls down, but you don’t have the resources to repair them.  If you have high diastolic you might have cold hands and/or feet.  This could be a sign that the blood isn’t flowing well to these areas.

Why is blood pressure important?  Your heart works 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.  When your heart stops, the game is over.  Therefore, we want our hearts to work as efficiently as possible.  When the numbers are not ideal, this means our heart is working too hard and it might not last as long as we would like.

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