What do these pressure values mean?
Our arteries need a certain pressure,which is about 80 mmHG (millimeters of mercury)when resting, in order to get oxygen and nutrients to where they are required – in our toes as much as in our brain cells. Now this is the lower value which you know as the diastolic pressure. Otherwise our arteries would just hang lazily around like noodles. Like a hosepipe needs some constant internal pressure to make the water flow.
Our greatest device besides our brain, which is our heart, makes sure, that enough nutrients and oxygen is provided throughout our body – even against the force of gravity, isn’t this amazing? Simplistically speaking, it works like a pump, first collecting our healthiest juice, the blood, then thrusting it out into our pipe system by contracting its muscle, thereby squeezing our blood out. The pressure the heart muscle exerts at the point of contraction is the higher value, called systolic pressure, which is statistically benchmarked at around 120 mmHG.
Is our blood pressure always the same?
Depending on what we do, whether we are sleeping, running, kissing, doing streneous workout, having to react to a change in traffic light, or to escape from a gorilla chasing us, our muscles and cells require more or less oxygen and nutrients.
Luckily, our heart has a few friends. Thus, it does not have to decide all by itself what to do. One of them is our smart brain (we will talk about the others another time), which receives information from our nervous sytem and informs our heart, what to do accordingly, whether more or less nutrients and oxygen are required. Whenever we touch a hot stove, for instance, our nervous system registers alarm, transmitts this message immediately to the heart, and the heart increases its nutrient and blood supply to make sure, we are able to contract our arm muscles as quickly as possible to withdraw our hand! The blood pressure had to rise significantly to make this happen! Smart, isn’t it? When the situation is over, the muscle of the heart starts to relax, and the pressure decreases again.
When we have to climb a staircase, also here our oxygen requirements for our legs increases, hence our blood pressure rises. When no longer needed and the exercise is over, the blood pressure goes down again.
In a nutshell, the systolic pressure, the maximum pressure of contraction, always fluctuates depending on our activities and perceptions.
It is interesting to note here, that also images of alarming situations on TV for example (9/11) also cause a rise in the upper pressure (based on scientific research).
The lower pressure, however, remains basically naturally the same, as it is the basic pressure necessary to maintain a constant movement of blood, controlled by the filter of our body, i.e. our kidneys.
More to come! Check out the great “heart retreat day”