Blood Pressure

By the age of 55, one in three men will be taking medication for high blood pressure. High blood pressure is also called Hypertension.

all about blood pressure

Your blood pressure is the pressure at which your heart pumps blood around your body. Your blood pressure reading is made up of two measurements: the pressure when your heart is pumping, and the pressure when it’s resting.

It is normal for your blood pressure to vary during the day. It might be higher after exercise for example or after taking some medications. But if it doesn’t return to normal after a short time, then you may have a problem.

High blood pressure is called ‘hypertension’. It can cause your blood vessels to harden and narrow, and increase your chances of having a STROKE or a HEART ATTACK.

Low blood pressure is called ‘hypotension’. It’s less risky for your overall health, but if your blood pressure suddenly drops, or fluctuates often, it can cause dizziness, lack of concentration, and fainting.

High blood pressure often has no symptoms so the only way to know is by having your blood pressure measured. You can get this done by your doctor, or nurse, or at your local pharmacy.

Low blood pressure on the other hand is easier to detect yourself. The symptoms include:

  • Light headedness
  • Fainting
  • Blurred vision
  • Confusion
  • Nausea

High blood pressure can be caused by:

  • Smoking
  • Bad eating
  • Being overweight
  • Lack of exercise
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Diabetes

Low blood pressure can be caused by:

  • A side effect of your medication
  • Anaemia
  • Dehydration
  • Heart disease

Your chances of developing high or low blood pressure increase as you get older. By the age of 55, one in 3 men will be on medication for high blood pressure.

High and low blood pressure can also be hereditary and run in your family.

If you are over 30, it’s good to get your blood pressure checked every year. You can get this done by your doctor, or nurse, or at your local pharmacy. If you have a blood pressure reading that is outside the normal range, make an appointment to see your doctor.

The best time to get your blood pressure measured is when you are rested. If you’ve just been exercising, or you’ve just taken your medication, you won’t get a very accurate reading.

Blood pressure is taken as two measurements:

  • Top number – the pressure of your blood pumping when your heart beats
  • Bottom number – the pressure of your blood pumping in between heartbeats

Generally speaking 120/80 is a perfect reading, but a healthy reading can be within a range of about plus or minus 20. Ideally, you want to be in the green range on the chart.

If your blood pressure reading falls outside the normal range, your doctor will arrange a few more readings in the following weeks, before deciding what steps to take next. Sometimes they’ll lend you a blood pressure reader to take home so you can take the follow up readings yourself.


Your doctor will ask you questions about your lifestyle, like how stressed you are, whether you smoke, what you eat, how much exercise you get, and whether you add salt to your food. Together you can come up with a plan to improve these risk factors.

You might also be given medication. This will depend on how high your blood pressure is and your risk of having a STROKE or a HEART ATTACK. It’s pretty common for people to be prescribed more than one medication to help lower their blood pressure.

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Blood pressure range

blood-pressure chart

David's Blood Pressure Nightmare

53 year old David Ratima from Tauranga woke in the middle of the night burning up, hardly able to breathe, and with tightness all over his body. He was admitted to hospital and received life saving treatment. He talked to Men’s Health about the whole experience and the harrowing journey that led up to it.

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Here are some useful brochures and resources that you can download for more information on blood pressure.


If you would like to share your story about how you got your blood pressure under control we’d love to hear from you. Fill in the form and we’ll get in touch.