Know your blood pressure: A simple guide

Published - 06 December 2019, Friday

When it comes to preventing a whole host of medical problems including heart attack and stroke, one of the simplest things you can do yourself is check your blood pressure! 

High blood pressure is called the silent killer because most people don’t know they have it.  Read on for a quick and simple guide on what blood pressure is and what the numbers mean!

What is blood pressure?

Blood pressure is quite simply a measure of the force of the blood pushing against the arteries as the blood is pumped by the heart.  Blood pressure is recorded with a unit called millimeters of mercury, abbreviated as “mmHg”.

140/80 mmHg

  • The top number (140) is called the systolic blood pressure. It is the pressure in the arteries when the heart is contracting.
  • The lower number (80) is called the diastolic blood pressure. It is the pressure in the arteries when the heart is relaxing.
  • The top number is ALWAYS higher than the bottom number. 

Which number is most important?
The blood pressure category is defined by the highest level of blood pressure, whether that’s the top reading or the bottom reading. It is more common to have elevated systolic blood pressure, but both readings are important.

What is a normal blood pressure?
The normal blood pressure is around about 120/80. Blood pressure varies though out the day and depends on various factors including levels of stress and activity. It is normal to have lower levels of blood pressure during the night.  If you are measuring you blood pressure at home, if the average is over 135/85, this is considered high blood pressure or as doctors call it “hypertension”.

Why do I have high blood pressure?
The majority of hypertension has no one specific cause but is due to a combination of genetics and lifestyle factors.  To look at your own contributing factors ask yourself the following questions:

  • Am I overweight?
  • Do I drink too much alcohol?
  • What is my diet like? Does it have too much salt in it? Are the nutritional components blood pressure friendly?
  • Am I under stress?
  • How active am I?
  • How old am I? – hypertension increases with age
  • Does high blood pressure run in my family?

The good news is that you can alter your blood pressure if you tackle each of these lifestyle areas. (apart from age and genetics... unless you have a time machine!)

I feel fine, why should I worry about my blood pressure?
With no symptoms, hypertension often goes unrecognised or ignored! Here are the straight facts. Read these carefully, let them sink in, then judge for yourself if you think it can be ignored.

  • Hypertension causes 10 MILLION DEATHS annually worldwide.
  • Hypertension is the single most important contributor to premature death and disease in the world.
  • Hypertension is directly responsible for half of all deaths due to stroke and heart disease.
  • When it doesn’t kill you, it can lead to the following outcomes: blindness, paralysis, inability to speak, breathlessness, chest pain, needing kidney dialysis and so on.

Do I need to see a doctor?
The answer is YES, even if only once.
There are 4 main reasons that you need to see a doctor:

  1. DIAGNOSE - Getting the correct diagnosis is critical.
  2. INVESTIGATE - To find out if you have “secondary hypertension”, a type of hypertension caused by something else such as kidney disease, or a hormonal condition.  Secondary causes of hypertension are rare, but a few simple screening tests are advocated in most people who present with hypertension. Your doctor will also assess if you have already developed any organ damage caused by hypertension.  
  3. ASSESS RISK - Your doctor will assess your risk of developing other diseases caused by high blood pressure.
  4. TREAT - To initiate treatment if needed.


Doing an annual health check is highly recommended for adults above 35 years old. With our current high stress and fast paced lifestyle, people tend to neglect their health. By doing an annual health check, it would give you an overview of your current health status and also help detect any underlying medical conditions you might have. Early detection and treatment of medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol will help minimise the risk of developing life threating diseases such as heart attack and stroke.

Contact The Harley Street Heart & Cancer Centre today to find out more on what screening tests are suitable for you based on your age, gender and family health history.

About the Contributor : Dr Michael MacDonald moved to Singapore with his family in 2015. They instantly fell in love with the country and are now permanent residents. In his free time, Dr MacDonald enjoys an active life, cycling and working out several times a week.

He also enjoys fishing with his son and has recently taken up golf. “I love to keep moving; exercise and healthy living are my passion. This is a huge part of my motivation in working as a cardiologist. I want people to attain their best level of fitness and health, so they can enjoy their lives!”

Contact Dr. Michael for a consultation today!

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John Gordon

RATED 8 / 8
There is nothing more painful than losing a loved one to sudden death due to heart attack, cardiac arrest or stroke.

These cardiovascular diseases all find their root cause in coronary artery disease, which you could develop when your heart artery is blocked with fatty plaques.

Thankfully, seeing your cardiologist in Singapore for regular cardiac screening may lower your risk of developing coronary artery disease. A cardiac screen identifies your risk factors and prompts you to make lifestyle changes before your risk for developing cardiovascular diseases increases. Surely, the old adage “Prevention is better than cure,” makes perfect sense especially in view of preventing fatal heart ailments.

What are some of the cardiac screening tests that you may avail from your cardiologist in Singapore?

Read on:

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