Shortness of breath? “I am just unfit”.
Neck pain? “It’s just bad posture”.
Swollen ankles? “It’s the severe heat”.
Fatigued? “It’s been a long week”.
Not all heart problems come with clear warning signs and the symptoms of heart disease are often shrugged off as something else.
Heart disease is known as the silent killer because symptoms go unnoticed. Knowing your numbers – blood pressure, cholesterol, sugar and Body Mass Index (BMI) – is one of the best ways to know your heart’s health.
The measures of heart health
The more we learn about heart disease, the more we realise that symptoms can vary in different people. Some patients experience no discomfort at all. We know that there are certain factors that put people at greater risk of heart disease:
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- High cholesterol
What is a healthy blood pressure?
Your heart pumps blood around your body to supply it with the oxygen and energy it needs. As your blood moves, it creates pressure against the sides of your blood vessels. You don’t want this pressure to be too high.
The only way to know if you have high blood pressure (hypertension) is to have a blood pressure reading. The reading consists of two numbers. The top number is your systolic blood pressure, which is the amount of pressure in your arteries as the heart muscle contracts. The second number is your diastolic blood pressure. This is the lowest level your blood pressure reaches as your heart relaxes between beats.
A blood pressure reading is considered normal when the systolic pressure is between 90 and 120, and the diastolic pressure is between 60 and 80.