A blood pressure test measures the pressure of the blood as it is pumped through your arteries and around your body. When your heart beats it contracts to pump blood into your arteries and then relaxes
Your blood pressure will be expressed by two numbers, one on top of the other, such as 120/80mmHg. The first number refers to your blood pressure when your heart beats, measured in millilitres of mercury. The second number is your blood pressure when your heart relaxes after beating.
Your blood pressure will be expressed by two numbers, one on top of the other, such as 120/80mmHg. The first number (known as systolic pressure) refers to your blood pressure when your heart beats, measured in millilitres of mercury. The second number (known as diastolic pressure) is your blood pressure when your heart relaxes after beating.
Your blood pressure needs to be high enough to move the blood around your body but not too high otherwise your heart can become enlarged and your risk of heart attack or stroke increases. Your medical team will be able to tell you your ideal blood pressure levels, although according to the NHS, a normal blood pressure reading is below 130/80mmHg. If you have readings on more than one occasion of 140/90mmHg or higher, you have high blood pressure.
High blood pressure (or hypertension) can be caused by a poor diet with too much salt and not enough fruit and vegetables. It can also be caused by being overweight, not exercising enough, smoking, or drinking too much alcohol. It sometimes runs in families. Lifestyle changes such as improving your diet, stopping smoking and exercising more can help to reduce your blood pressure.
Increased fats in your blood, which can contribute to high blood pressure, can be caused by antiretrovirals such as protease inhibitors. If you have high blood pressure you can talk to a clinician to find out whether your medication may be contributing, and which lifestyle changes may help to reduce it.
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This article was last reviewed on
by P. Kelly
Date due for the next review: 31/8/2012
Content Author: K. Wells
Current Owner: K. Wells
Antiretroviral therapy and risk of high blood pressure, NAM aidsmap
High blood pressure, NHS Choices
High blood pressure, British Heart Foundation
High blood pressure, NAM aidsmap (2011)
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