How's your blood pressure?

Need a primer on blood pressure? Read this quick and easy-to-understand explanation from Mary’s Center’s Chief Nursing Officer, Dara Koppelman.

When you go to your Primary Care Provider (PCP), do you understand those numbers the medical assistant or nurse tells you after they’ve taken your blood pressure? 120/70? Is that good or bad?

What is Blood Pressure?

Blood pressure is the force of the blood pushing against the walls of the arteries. Your blood pressure is highest when the heart beats, pumping blood. This is the first number and is called systolic pressure. When your heart is resting, between beats, your blood pressure falls. This is the second number and is called diastolic pressure.

Normal blood pressure is between 90/60 and 120/80.

If your blood pressure is below 90/60, you may have low blood pressure or hypotension.

If your blood pressure is above 130/90, you could be in the early stages of hypertension or high blood pressure.

If your blood pressure is above 140/90, you may have hypertension or high blood pressure.

Why Does Blood Pressure Matter?

So what are the health implications of having high blood pressure or low blood pressure? If your blood remains high for a long period of time (uncontrolled hypertension), this could damage your heart, kidneys, and other organs, cause a stroke or other medical problems. Low blood pressure can lead to dizziness and fainting, and could be a sign of dehydration, blood loss, or shock.

For these reasons, it’s important for you to find out what your blood pressure is, even if you feel fine. Many people who have high blood pressure are unaware, and don’t realize they could be causing damage to their body, That’s why high blood pressure is sometimes called “the silent killer.”

How Do I Keep My Blood Pressure In Check?

If your blood pressure is high, ask your Primary Care Provider (PCP) about treatment and lifestyle changes to improve your health.  You can also join us for group hypertension management visits at the Georgia Avenue site, for a clinical and educational group session with a clinician, nurse, and medical assistant.  The best way to keep your blood pressure under control is with exercise and a healthy diet!  So, stay healthy!


About Dara Koppelman, RN, BSN, BA

Dara Koppelman, Chief Nursing Officer of Mary’s Center, received her nursing degree from Johns Hopkins University. She also has a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and Spanish from the University of Maryland, College Park.  Prior to coming to Mary’s Center, Dara had experience in both the hospital setting and the public health field, working in labor and delivery and then at a local health department doing home visits for high-risk pregnant women and children.  She also spent time abroad, doing volunteer work in a community center and farmer’s cooperative in Costa Rica, and studying Spanish in Spain. Her nursing interests include public health nursing, women’s health, nursing leadership, working with underserved populations, and teaching and mentoring nursing students. 


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