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Can you explain the difference between blood pressure and heart rate? Are the two connected somehow?

Smartliving Guest asked this
June 9, 2011 at 3:10 PM

A:

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Blood pressure is quite literally the amount of pressure the arterial blood exerts against the walls of the blood vessels. It is typically measured in “millimeters of mercury” abbreviated mmHg. When measuring blood pressure there are two numbers:

   •  Systolic - The Top Number. The maximum amount of pressure. (Occurs in the middle of a contraction when the heart is squeezing the blood into the blood vessels.) 
   •  Diastolic -The Bottom Number. The minimum amount of pressure. (Occurs when the heart is not contracting.)

This pressure is needed to push the blood out from the heart and into all of the organs. If blood pressure is too low, then the organs do not get enough blood which can cause damage to the organs.

Our heart rate and pulse rate are measures of how fast our heart is beating. It is typically measured in beats per minute. If the heart is beating too slowly, then it is not pushing enough blood to support the body.

Though the two are unique in their function, they do share some similarities. When we are exercising or are under stress, it is normal for both our blood pressure and our heart rate to go up and both work to make sure we are sending an adequate supply to blood to the muscles which need more oxygen when they are working hard. Additionally, when we stop exercising, both our blood pressure and our heart rate is supposed to go back down to normal. Problems with one is likely to create problems with the other. If the heart is beating too quickly, it does not have enough time to fill with blood, so it can not pump the blood well. Also, if our heart is constantly pumping quickly, it puts extra strain on the heart, which can cause damage and make it not pump as well. If our blood pressure is too high, over time, the extra pressure damages the lining of our blood vessels, which increases the chances of having a heart attack or a stroke.

People who exercise on a regular basis tend to develop a more efficient cardiovascular system. This increased efficiency supports lower blood pressure and a slower heart rate while they are resting - reducing the stain on the heart and blood vessels and helps protect against heart attacks and strokes.

Stay Healthy, Dr. Jeff M.D.

Dr. Jeff Chamberlain, MD Health Coach answered
June 9, 2011 at 3:46 PM
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