Anyone who doesn’t have a head for numbers usually gets a headache thinking about high blood pressure. It just gets pretty confusing keeping track of which number means what and where the numbers should be and whether or not they are too high. The numbers can’t make any sense if you don’t know what blood pressure it. Imagine for a moment a full balloon attached to a tire. The air inside the tire is under pressure, it’s trying to get out and pressing against the walls of the tire. Is someone comes along and squeezes to air from the balloon into the tire, the air pressure inside the tire goes up. That tire is the body’s blood vessels – the arteries and veins. They are constantly under pressure from all the blood they carry. The balloon is the heart. When it is resting it is full of blood, but when it beats it squeezes and all that blood goes into the blood vessels, raising the blood pressure. This why a blood pressure reading has two numbers, the higher number is for when the heart is beating and the lower number is for when it is resting. If the blood pressure is too high, it damages the blood vessels, the same way a tire under too much air pressure might burst. With high blood pressure, there are a number of other problems which might occur including heart disease and damage to the kidneys. It is important for everyone to get their blood pressure checked at least once a year. There are no symptoms of high blood pressure, and many people have it for years without knowing they are ill. Anyone with high blood pressure should speak with their doctor about a treatment plan. If the blood pressure isn’t very high, lifestyle changes like lowering stress, reducing the amount of salt in the diet, getting exercise and drinking less caffeine. Very high blood pressure usually needs to be treated with medication.