Why You Should Be Checked For High Blood Pressure
Around 30% of people in England have high blood pressure, but many don’t know it. This is a problem because if high blood pressure is left untreated you will have a higher risk of heart attacks and strokes.
The only way of knowing if you have high blood pressure is to have your blood pressure checked and all adults in the UK should do this at least every five years.
You can be checked for high blood pressure at any branch of Newline Pharmacy. See our Healthy Living page to find out how you can receive a free blood pressure check at any of our pharmacies.
What Is Blood Pressure?
Blood pressure is measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg) and consists of two measurements:
- Systolic pressure – the pressure of the blood when your heart beats to pump blood out
- Diastolic pressure – the pressure of the blood when your heart rests in between beats, which reflects how strongly your arteries are resisting blood flow
So if you are told that your blood pressure is ‘140 over 90’ or 140/90mmHg, it means that you have a systolic pressure of 140mmHg and a diastolic pressure of 90mmHg. A blood pressure reading of below 130/80 is considered to be normal.
It is said that you have high blood pressure (hypertension) if your reading is consistently, on separate occasions, 140/90mmHg or above.
What Causes High Blood Pressure And Who Is Most At Risk?
In over 90% of cases it is not known what causes high blood pressure but it has become clear that you may be at increased risk if you:
- Are overweight
- Have a relative with high blood pressure
- Are of African or Caribean descent
- Eat too much salt
- Don’t eat enough fruit and vegetables
- Don’t do enough exercise
- Drink too many caffeine based drinks
- Drink too much alcohol
- Are aged over 65
You need to get your blood pressure checked, especially as there are no obvious symptoms of high blood pressure.
Many pharmacies will check your blood pressure, including all branches of Newline Pharmacy, and refer you to your GP if it is high. Alternatively you can go directly to your GP to have your blood pressure checked.
If your blood pressure is consistently above 140/90mmHg but your risk of cardiovascular disease is low, you should be able to lower your blood pressure by making some simple lifestyle changes.
The suggested lifestyle changes required are listed below.
Ways To Prevent And Treat High Blood Pressure
The steps you need to take to prevent or treat high blood pressure are to lose weight if you need to, cut down on the amount of salt you eat, exercise regularly (150 minutes of moderate exercise a week), eat a healthy diet, reduce the amount of alcohol you drink, stop smoking and cut down on caffeine drinks.
If your GP decides your blood pressure is too high, they will first suggest you make the above lifestyle changes. However, if this does not bring your blood pressure readings down enough they will probably offer you some medication. The first one will depend on your age:
- If you are under 55 you will usually be offered an ACE inhibitor or ARB which will relax your blood vessels
- If you are over 55 (or at any age if you have African or Caribbean ancestry) a calcium channel blocker will be suggested. This keeps calcium from entering the muscle cells of your heart and blood vessels
Other medications include diuretics which flush excess water and salt from your body through your urine, and beta-blockers that work by making your heart beat more slowly and with less force.
It is important that you take your medication as directed by your doctor. If you miss doses the medication will not work as effectively.
All of the medications will have possible side effects, though most patients do not have problems. However, if you have any questions about your medication, it’s side effects or taking other tablets at the same time you can chat with any of our pharmacists at any time.
- What is systolic blood pressure?
- What is diastolic blood pressure?
- What does this show?
- What is ‘normal’ blood pressure?
- How often should you have your blood pressure checked?
- What percentage of people in England have high blood pressure?
- What happens if you don’t have high blood pressure treated?
- Who is most at risk?
- What are the symptoms?
- What causes high blood pressure?
[expand title=”Quiz Answers”]
- It is the pressure of the blood when your heart beats to pump blood out
- It is the pressure when your heart rests between beats
- It reflects how strongly your arteries are resisting blood flow
- 130/80mmHg i.e. systolic over diastolic
- Every five years
- Your risk of a heart attack or stroke increases
- People who are overweight, have relatives with high blood pressure, smoke, eat too much salt and not enough fruit and vegetables, drink too much alcohol or caffeine based drinks, or are over 65
- Usually there are no symptoms
- In more than 90% of cases the cause is unknown