Q: What is blood pressure? What do the top and bottom numbers of a blood pressure reading mean?

  • Friday, February 20, 2009

Stephen Murk, M.D.

•A: Blood pressure, simply stated, is the force exerted on the walls of blood vessels (arteries) as blood travels through them. Blood is pushed through blood vessels by the heart which works as a pump within the body. Because the heart “beats” (pumps, relaxes, pumps, relaxes, etc.), blood is pushed through intermittently, in waves or boluses. The top number in a blood pressure reading (systolic) reflects pressure when the heart pumps. The bottom number (diastolic) reflects pressure when the heart relaxes.

Stephen Murk, M.D.
SeeWee Internal Medicine
3044 Highway 17 North, Suite B
Mount Pleasant, SC 29466
(843) 789-1830

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