Blood pressure is recorded with two numbers – the systolic pressure (the higher number) and the diastolic pressure (the lower number).
The systolic pressure is the force at which your heart pumps blood around your body, whereas the diastolic pressure is the resistance to the blood flow in the blood vessels.
Low blood pressure, known as hypotension, is a reading of 90/60mmHg or less.
Moderate forms of low blood pressure can cause dizziness, weakness, fainting and a risk of injury from falls, and severely low blood pressure can deprive your body of enough oxygen to carry out its normal functions leading to damage to your heart and brain.
So if you haven’t been tested for low blood pressure, what are the symptoms to look out for?
The NHS advises to get your blood pressure checked if you experience the following symptoms:
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
- Feeling sick
- Blurred vision
- Generally feeling weak
The health body urges people that if you have low blood pressure and keep getting symptoms such as dizziness to see your GP.
While medication can be used to treat low blood pressure, this is actually rarely needed because simple lifestyle measures or treating the underlying cause is usually effective.
The NHS lists a number of ways to ease low blood pressure symptoms yourself:
- Get up slowly from sitting to standing
- Take care when getting out of bed – move slowly from lying to sitting to standing
- Raise the head of your bed by about 15cm with bricks or heavy books
- Eat small, frequent meals – lying down or sitting still for a while after eating may also help
- Increase the amount of water you drink
High blood pressure is a condition that affects more than one in four adults in the UK.
But many symptoms go undetected – the only sure way to find out if you have it is to have your blood pressure checked.
All adults over 40 are advised to have theirs checked at least every five years, and this can be done at your GP surgery, at some pharmacies, as part of your NHS Health Check and in some workplaces.
You can also check your blood pressure yourself with a blood pressure monitor at home. This chart can tell you what your reading says about your blood pressure.