Blood Pressure Part I

The human body requires blood to be constantly replaced with fresh blood, which necessitates a fast, powerful circulatory system. This ensures that oxygen from the lungs can be carried to cells quickly and efficiently. Without oxygen, these cells cannot operate. The body needs to keep the pressure in its blood vessels at a very constant level, which we term ‘blood pressure’. If blood pressure is too low, cells cannot operate, which in most cases causes dizziness (because the brain is at the top of the body, it is the first to run out of blood when someone is upright). If blood pressure is too high, it puts stress on the small vessels of the body (which can lead to them bursting in areas such as the brain and kidneys) and requires the heart to pump harder to overcome the pressure (which can lead to heart attacks). If blood vessels burst in the brain, it can cause a stroke, when blood vessels burst in the kidneys it causes kidney failure.

Blood pressure is often high enough to cause risks of heart attack, stroke or kidney failure but not high enough for someone to recognise without a blood pressure monitor, which is why it is vital for everybody to have regular blood pressure checks. A good way to remember the effects of high blood pressure is to think of the plumbing system of a house – if the mains pressure is turned up, it increases the risk of taps and fittings blowing out from the pressure at any time, but when you turn of the tap water still comes out fine and you would not know the difference. But every day that the pressure is high, the risk increases of something going wrong…