Let’s control this silent killer epidemic

A simple test is all it takes to identify hypertension

It’s World Hypertension (high blood pressure) Day, promoting public awareness of hypertension and to encourage people to prevent and control this silent killer, the modern epidemic.

All of us should have our blood pressure checked. Knowing if you have hypertension is key to avoiding sudden illness or death.

The theme of 2019 is Know Your Numbers which aims at increasing high blood pressure (BP) awareness in all the populations around the world. It also promotes awareness about hypertension and to encourage people to prevent and control this silent killer epidemic.

The numbers

  • Hypertension is the number one contributing risk factor for global death is raised blood pressure  – causing strokes, heart attacks and other cardiovascular complications
  • Ten million lives are lost each year needlessly due to raised blood pressure
  • Only half of people with high blood pressure, know it.

These deaths are PREVENTABLE……….And that’s the real tragedy.

Each May, volunteers around the world measure the blood pressure of people in cities, towns, and villages. All participants leave knowing their blood pressure and anyone who registered as hypertensive is given advice about what they need to do next.

High blood pressure, or hypertension, rarely has noticeable symptoms. But if untreated, it increases your risk of serious problems such as heart attacks and strokes.

More than one in four adults in the UK have high blood pressure, although many won't realise it.

What is high blood pressure?

Blood pressure is recorded with two numbers. The systolic pressure (higher number) is the force at which your heart pumps blood around your body.
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're at risk of developing high blood pressure if you don't take steps to keep your blood pressure under control.

Blood pressure test

A blood pressure test is a simple way of checking if your blood pressure is too high or too low. High blood pressure (hypertension) can put a strain on your arteries and organs, which can increase your risk of developing serious problems such as heart attacks and strokes.  Low blood pressure (hypotension) isn't usually as serious, although it can cause dizziness and fainting in some people.

When should I get my blood pressure tested?

You can ask for a blood pressure test if you're worried about your blood pressure at any point. You can get your blood pressure tested at a number of places, including:

  • Your local GP surgery
  • Some pharmacies
  • Some workplaces
  • At home using the right equipment
  • At an NHS Health Check appointment offered to adults in England aged 40-74 .

It's recommended that all adults over 40 years of age have their blood pressure tested at least every 5 years so any potential problems can be detected early.

If you've already been diagnosed with high or low blood pressure, or you're at a particularly high risk of these problems, you may need to have more frequent tests to monitor your blood pressure.

If your blood pressure is found to be too high or too low, your GP or the healthcare professional performing the test can advise you about ways to control it. This may involve:

  • Adopting a healthy, balanced diet and restricting your salt intake
  • Getting regular exercise
  • Cutting down on alcohol
  • Losing weight
  • Stopping smoking
  • Taking medication, such as angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors or calcium channel blockers.

In some cases, you may be referred to a doctor such as a cardiologist (heart specialist) to discuss treatment options.
Read more about treating high blood pressure and treating low blood pressure.

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