It is estimated that up to 7million people in the UK have high blood pressure and are unaware they have.
What is blood pressure and why do we need it?
Your heart is the main man when it comes to blood pressure, keeping it healthy will allow it to pump oxygen and nutrients to the rest of the organs in your body. Your blood pressure is a measure of the force your heart uses to pump blood around your body. Your arteries are the road system used to deliver oxygen and nutrients. So, we all need pressure to keep things moving.
It is perfectly normal for our blood pressure to go up and down, especially during activity. It’s when your blood pressure is high all the time even when you are doing nothing ,that it’s time to do something about it.
Symptoms of high blood pressure
Many people with high blood pressure have no symptoms and feel well. Some common symptoms are blurred vision, headaches that seem to be constant, shortness of breath and nosebleeds.
Strangely my husband had several nosebleeds leading up to the birth of our son and on checking, his blood pressure was high (obviously a stressful time for him!).
Even if you have no symptoms your GP practice will offer you a health check once you reach forty and every 5 years after that, these are essential points of contact to check your future risks and having your blood pressure checked is part of this appointment.
How is blood pressure measured?
You may have seen two readings sat one over the other. One being called Systolic pressure and the other Diastolic pressure.
Systolic is the highest level of blood pressure and that number is on top – so highest. Diastolic is lowest level of blood pressure sitting on the bottom. The highest, systolic reading is when your heart contracts to pump blood through your arteries and around your body. The lowest, diastolic is when your heart is relaxing between beats. Ideally your blood pressure reading should be under 140/90mmHg.
What is high blood pressure?
Hypertension is the medical term that means your blood pressure is always too high. High blood pressure is a serious condition, that can lead to heart and circulatory diseases, heart attacks, stroke, kidney failure, sight problems and heart failure.
Normal healthy arteries are stretchy to cope with your blood pressure going up and down whilst pumping blood and carrying it to your organs. If you have high blood your arteries become stiff and narrow. This narrowing makes it easier for fatty material to build on their walls and clog up arteries. Clogged arteries can lead to heart attack and strokes occurring.
What increases the risk of developing hypertension (high blood pressure)
1. Family genetics
2. Ethnicity more common if you are of black African or of black Caribbean descent.
4. Drinking too much Alcohol
5. Leading a sedentary lifestyle.
6. Being overweight
7. A diet high in processed foods that contain large hidden amounts of salt.
The good news is that five of the above can be modified and improved by adopting some small simple changes. Even the top two risks that you cannot change, can improve with a healthy lifestyle and reduce your risks associated with high blood pressure and other related lifestyle risks such as high cholesterol and raised blood glucose levels.
One You Lincolnshire offers support in all areas of lifestyle improvement, as well as a dedicated Health coach team offering one to one support sessions if you need that bit extra help to make positive changes. Your aspirations for a long, healthy and happy life are what we seek to help you achieve. For more information about our Stop Smoking, Move More, Eat Well and Drink Less pathways support to make healthy lifestyle choices visit One You Lincolnshire and register for free today to speak to one of our Health Coaches.
This blog has been written using supportive material and information from the British Heart Foundation.
The information and advice within this blog are not intended to replace any medical advice, with all our clients we seek to address their individual needs and circumstances - this includes any adaptations required for long- or short-term health conditions and medications. Please seek medical advice if you have any health conditions before considering a lifestyle change. If you would like to address any of the content of this blog, please email us.