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Do you know your numbers? Iqaluit NU

Like some Canadians, you may know that normal blood pressure is 120/80 mm Hg (millimeters of mercury). But do you know what these numbers really mean ...

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Do you know your numbers?

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Photo courtesy of metrocreativegraphics.com Photo courtesy of metrocreativegraphics.com

(NC)-Like some Canadians, you may know that normal blood pressure is 120/80 mm Hg (millimeters of mercury). But do you know what these numbers really mean?

Saturday, May 17th is World Hypertension Day, and Canadians are encouraged to participate by getting to know their blood pressure numbers and learning how to measure their blood pressure at home.

Blood pressure is a measure of the pressure or force of blood against the walls of blood vessels, called arteries. It is measured with two numbers, and both are important to your health.

The top number represents the pressure when the heart contracts and pushes out blood. This is called systolic blood pressure. The bottom number is the lowest pressure when the heart relaxes between beats. This is called diastolic blood pressure.

Blood pressure that is consistently more than 140/90 mmHg is considered high. Over time, high blood pressure can damage blood vessel walls causing scarring that promotes buildup of fatty plaque. This plaque can eventually block the arteries, leading to heart attack or stroke. It also strains and weakens the heart muscle.

One in four Canadians has high blood pressure, yet nearly 43 per cent of sufferers do not know they have it. In fact, adults over age 55 have a 90 per cent chance of developing high blood pressure.

In honor of World Hypertension Day, events will be held across Canada and worldwide, to call attention to this global epidemic and communicate public information on prevention, detection and treatment.

For more information on World Hypertension Day and this year's theme of "Measure Your Blood Pressure at Home", please visit: www.worldhypertensionleague.org or www.hypertension.ca.

Credit: www.newscanada.com