Blood Pressure

Be in the know, keep it low

Getting regular blood pressure checks can be your best defence against stroke.

Blood pressure and stroke

Failure to detect and control high blood pressure is the single biggest cause of avoidable strokes. High blood pressure puts too much pressure and stress on the walls of blood vessels and increases the risk of both bleeds and blood clots. A person with high blood pressure is up to seven times more likely to have a stroke than someone with normal or low blood pressure. 

A blood pressure check
A blood pressure check is quick and painless.

What is a blood pressure check?

A blood pressure check is quick and painless. Your doctor will be able to carry one out for you, as well as some chemists. It often involves a cuff being placed around your arm and inflated - it feels tight but doesn't hurt. You get the results straight away. Normal blood pressure is around 120/80 (said as "one-twenty over eighty") or lower. High blood pressure is when it is consistently around or over 140/90.

Every year we give thousands of New Zealanders a free blood pressure check. Find out more here.

What if I have high blood pressure?

High blood pressure is serious but can treated. Sometimes, lifestyle changes around a better diet or more exercise will help. Obviously cutting out tobacco products will benefit you, as will keeping your alcohol intake low. Your doctor can also help with medicine to address the issue.

What causes high blood pressure?

Blood pressure tends to rise as we get older, and can run in families.

Common causes include:

  • being overweight
  • smoking
  • drinking too much alcohol
  • not exercising
  • eating a bad diet
  • eating too much salt
  • diabetes

Here's a table that will help you understand your blood pressure results. A diagnosis of high blood pressure requires more than one reading.





Less than 120


Less than 80

A healthy result, recheck in a year



Less than 80

Monitor as there is a high chance of further increases




A high result, usually treated with lifestyle changes. Medication may be suggested if you have other stroke risk factors

Greater than 140


Greater than 90

Usually treated with medication and lifestyle changes

Greater than 180


Greater than 120

Needs urgent attention right away

If you think you have high blood pressure, get a check. It could save your life.

Listen to Mau Moananu's story and why he urges everyone to get their blood pressure checked regularly:

The Big Blood Pressure Check

The Big Blood Pressure Check takes place every October. Thanks to all our volunteers from Rotary, St John and Wellington Free without whom the campaign would be impossible.

A blood pressure check
Blood pressure tends to rise as we age.

This year the Big Blood Pressure Check takes place on Saturday October 6 2018

You can see how successful the 2017 Big Blood Pressure Check was on this PDF: BP infographic

Have a look at our Facebook page to see some pictures from the 2016 event. 

You can download our Blood Pressure information leaflet here:

Blood Pressure and Stroke

Stroke partners

Increasingly New Zealanders are monitoring their own blood pressure using battery operated digital monitors. Contact us for more information:

Please help us today

Stroke devastates lives. 
Help us rebuild the lives of New Zealanders who experience the impact of stroke. Together, we can give them hope.