Blood Pressure (BP)

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Within your body there are hundreds of vessels allowing blood to flow freely around your body. There are two main types, known as arteries and veins. Arteries take blood away from the heart to the limbs and have very thick elastic walls, whereas veins return blood to the heart and have relatively thin walls. The job of the circulatory (blood) system is to pump blood, which contains oxygen from the air in the lungs, to the organs and muscles within our bodies. Without this oxygen, our bodies would not be able to work.

The main driving force for  pumping blood around our bodies is the heart, which is located to the left of the chest, just behind the rib cage. The heart is a muscular organ that is split into 4 parts, 2 atria and 2 ventricles. The right side of the heart recieves blood from veins within our bodies, pumping it to the lungs, whereas the left side recieves blood containing oxygen from the lungs and pumps it around the rest of the body. As this blood has to flow partly against gravity up to the head and neck, it must be pumped out very hard, so the left side of your heart is more muscular than the right.  When blood is pumped out of the left side, it is done so at a pressure which can be measured. This is measured frequently in hospital and general practice and involves placing a cuff on your upper arm. Once inflated the doctor is able to measure how hard your heart is pumping your blood, this is your blood pressure.

Your blood pressure changes due to a number of conditions and may require treatment. This is why doctors frequently use it as a measurement, as a high blood pressure can cause many problems.