Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by michael. michael Wonders, “What does blood pressure mean?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, michael!

Do you ever get stressed out? Perhaps a test at school or an upcoming game causes you anxiety from time to time? How about the adults in your life? Do they ever worry about work or money? If so, you may have heard them refer to something that makes their blood pressure rise.

Blood pressure is a measure of how hard your heart has to pump to deliver blood throughout your body. Without blood pressure, your body wouldn't get the oxygen it needs to survive.

Blood pressure rises each time your heart beats and it falls between beats. There's always some pressure, though, because your blood needs to keep flowing.

Blood pressure can be affected by a variety of factors, including heredity, diet, exercise, stress, sleep, temperature, and drugs. Depending upon your age, there's a range of normal blood pressures, which means your blood pressure can be either too high or too low.

High blood pressure is a condition known as hypertension. Children and teens generally don't have to worry much about high blood pressure, but adults certainly do. Left untreated, high blood pressure can cause a variety of serious medical problems.

When you have hypertension, your heart and arteries have to work harder than usual. This additional stress can damage these vital parts of the circulatory system over time. Hypertension also increases your risk of strokes, kidney failure, heart attacks, and blindness.

Some common symptoms of hypertension include headaches, dizziness, nosebleeds, nausea, and vision problems. If you have any of these symptoms, you should see a doctor. Most doctors also check blood pressure as a regular part of any visit or check-up.

Have you ever had your blood pressure checked? If so, you know the sensation of having the blood pressure cuff strapped tightly around your arm and the doctor or nurse squeezing a bulb to fill the cuff with air. Just when you think the cuff can't get any tighter, the inflation stops and the pressure gets released, allowing it to deflate.

The blood pressure device has a special scientific name. It's called a sphygmomanometer. The doctor or nurse reads the dial at certain points to determine blood pressure, which consists of two numbers.

The first number is called the systolic pressure, which is the pressure at the peak of each heartbeat. The second number is called the diastolic pressure, which is the pressure between beats when the heart is at rest. For adults, high blood pressure is generally considered to be 140 over 90 or higher.

Hypertension can be caused by certain medical conditions and is sometimes passed down from parent to child. Most of the time, though, there's no specific cause. Things that can contribute to hypertension include stress, being overweight, not exercising enough, eating too much salt, certain medicines, or using alcohol, tobacco, or illegal drugs.

To treat hypertension, a doctor may prescribe a specific medicine. However, there are other things you can do to lower your blood pressure, including eating less salt, exercising more, losing weight, and reducing or stopping alcohol, tobacco, and illegal drug use.

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