(Daily Mail) — My recent blood pressure readings have confused me. The first, taken with an electric monitor, was 177/90 — apparently rather high.
A few days later it was 177/94, and was also taken with an electric monitor. However, when measured with a manual monitor it was 136/70.
My GP surgery preferred this last one — and said I had nothing to worry about. Which reading is likely to be correct?
This is a puzzling subject for many patients, not least because blood pressure readings do vary in any one person from hour to hour and day to day.
However, as I’m sure you realise, correct measurement is essential, as high blood pressure must never go undiagnosed.
Officially known as hypertension, it causes readings consistently above 140/90, and has a number of bad consequences for future health. Not only is it harmful for the heart, but it raises the risk of stroke, and damages the kidneys and eyes, too.
When your blood pressure is tested, the reading produces two numbers.
The first represents the pressure in your blood vessels when your heart contracts. Each contraction sends out around a teacupful of blood; the pressure forces it throughout the body to move along the blood vessels.
At this point your blood pressure is at its highest, known as systolic pressure.
When the heart relaxes and is refilling, preparing for the next contraction, the pressure drops back. This lower reading is your diastolic pressure.
A healthy blood pressure is around 120/80, though it’s not a fixed figure — as with weight, there is a spectrum that is considered healthy. But although measuring blood pressure may seem simple, there are a number of important factors that can influence your reading.