High Blood Pressure (or Hypertension) is very common in the Western World with 61 million people in the US and 15 million people in Britain suffering from the condition. Only half of the people suffering from the problem are aware of it.
There is no absolute measure which means your blood pressure is high, because blood pressure varies in each individual depending on their activities and emotional state. So blood pressure generally needs to be taken over a few days (or after resting for a few hours) to get an accurate picture.
In some cases actually having your blood pressure taken at the doctor’s surgery can cause your blood pressure to shoot up. If this is the case with you may be asked to monitor your own blood pressure over several days at home.
In people under 40, blood pressure of or over 140/90 for a few days is considered high. Over 40 and your blood pressure is considered high at 160/95. But this may vary depending on any medical conditions you have.
The odd high reading does not mean you have high blood pressure. So doctors usually take readings over several weeks before deciding to diagnose and treat you.
Both systolic and diastolic blood pressure readings are important in determining whether you need treatment. The first figure (systolic reading) shows how your heart is working and may predict the likelihood of heart disease. The second and lower figure (diastolic reading) shows how much pressure there is even when your heart is at rest and may indicate whether your arteries have narrowed.
For more information on high blood pressure see