HEALTH AND CARE: Get to know your numbers

High blood pressure is a risk factor for stroke, heart attack, heart failure and kidney disease
High blood pressure is a risk factor for stroke, heart attack, heart failure and kidney disease

Did you know one in three adults in the UK – approximately 16 million people – have high blood pressure?

High blood pressure rarely has any symptoms; the only way for people to know if they have the condition is to have their blood pressure measured.

From September 12 to 18 the charity Blood Pressure UK is running its blood pressure testing and awareness campaign to get people to have their blood pressure checked.

It is important to know your blood pressure numbers in the same way as your height and weight because high blood pressure is a risk factor for stroke, heart attack, heart failure and kidney disease.

Blood pressure is recorded with two numbers – the systolic pressure (higher number) is the force at which your heart pumps blood around your body and the diastolic pressure (lower number) is the resistance to the blood flow in the blood vessels. They’re both measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg).

As a general guide:

• High blood pressure is considered to be 140/90mmHg or higher.

• Ideal blood pressure is considered to be between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg.

• Low blood pressure is considered to be 90/60mmHg or lower.

A blood pressure reading between 120/80mmHg and 140/90mmHg could mean you are at risk of developing high blood pressure if you do not take steps to keep your blood pressure under control.

There are lots of different ways you can have a significant impact on your blood pressure and reducing your blood pressure can make a massive difference to your health.

The following steps towards a healthier lifestyle will help lower your blood pressure and keep it at a healthy level.

• Exercise – do at least 30 minutes of exercise five times a week, such as walking, dancing, cycling, or swimming. If you’re not used to exercising, don’t start too quickly. Talk to your doctor about how much exercise will suit you, and build up slowly.

• Healthy Eating – a healthy balanced diet will help reduce your blood pressure. A healthy diet includes eating less salt, less saturated fat and aiming for five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.

• Lose Weight – Exercising and eating healthily will help you lose weight. Obesity increases your risk of high blood pressure, so it’s important to be a healthy weight.

Also, if you also limit your alcohol intake and give up smoking it can all help support you in living a healthy lifestyle.

You can find out more about high blood pressure and the support available to help you make lifestyle changes at: www.nhs.uk/livewell

You can also find your nearest pressure station by visiting: www.bloodpressureuk.org

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