532 Health Care Skills
Blood pressure is a measure of how hard the
blood presses on the inside of the blood vessels.
It is useful to know a woman’s blood pressure
at these times:
• during pregnancy, childbirth, miscarriage,
• if she is using or planning to use birth
• in emergencies, such as shock, severe
abdominal pain, or a difficult childbirth.
What the numbers mean
A blood pressure measurement (BP) has two numbers:
120 is the top (systolic) reading
80 is the bottom (diastolic) reading
Normal blood pressure for an adult is from 90/60 to 120/80.
If a person has a blood pressure in this range, there is no need to worry. If
the blood pressure is between 120/80 and 140/90, a person should exercise, lose
weight, and eat less salt. If the blood pressure is over 140/90, the person also
needs to take medicines. A person who has diabetes or heart disease should take
medicine if the blood pressure is over 130/80.
A pregnant woman who has a blood pressure over 140/90 should see a health
worker for medicines that are safe for her to take.
A sudden drop in blood pressure is a danger sign, especially if it falls below
90/60. Watch for any sudden drop in the blood pressure of persons who are
losing blood or at risk of shock. If you get an abnormal blood pressure reading
and you do not think the person is in shock, wait a few minutes and take the blood
You will often need to watch a
person’s blood pressure over time
(for example, during a woman’s
pregnancy) to see how it changes.
It will help to keep a record:
goes up and
down a little
from month to
month. This is
Where Women Have No Doctor 2012