Many of us are living well into our 70s, 80s and 90s. With so much life to look forward to, these years should be healthy and happy for everyone, free from disease and disability.
The key to a healthy later life is in keeping ourselves fit and healthy for as long as possible, making the most of the support available along the way. Therefore in 2019 the aim of Know Your Numbers Week is to encourage people to live well for longer by going to get their blood pressure checked either at one of Blood Pressure UK's Pressure Stations during the week, via community pharmacy, practice nurse, self-care at home or through your occupational health provider, as high blood pressure has no symptoms.
Together we can help to prevent death and disability from stroke and heart disease caused by high blood pressure.
If left untreated, high blood pressure can cause serious health problems and increases the risk of:
For most people, there may be no single cause for their high blood pressure and we don’t know exactly what causes it. This is referred to as primary hypertension. If it is caused by an underlying medical condition it is referred to as secondary hypertension.
Some factors increase your risk of developing high blood pressure such as:
When your heart beats, it pumps blood round your body to give it the energy and oxygen it needs. As the blood moves, it pushes against the sides of the blood vessels. The strength of this pushing is your blood pressure. If your blood pressure is too high, it puts extra strain on your arteries (and your heart) and this may lead to heart attacks and strokes.
Blood pressure is measured in “millimetres of mercury” (mmHg) and is written as two numbers, e.g. if your reading is 120/80mmHg, your blood pressure is “120 over 80”.
The first (or top) number is your systolic blood pressure in your arteries during the contraction of your heart muscle. The second (or bottom) number is your diastolic blood pressure when your heart muscle is between beats. Ideal blood pressure is considered to be between 90/60mmgHG and 120/80mmHg. As a general guide, High blood pressure is a level consistently at or above 140mmHg and/or 90mmHg. You may also have high blood pressure if just one of the numbers is higher than it should be over a number of weeks.
Having high blood pressure (hypertension) is not usually something that you feel or notice. It does not tend to produce obvious signs or symptoms so the only way to detect it is by routine screening.
We do know that your lifestyle can help prevent and lower high blood pressure and these would include:
If your blood pressure is very high or these lifestyle changes do not reduce it enough, your doctor may prescribe you medication to control it and to reduce your risk of having a heart attack or stroke, such as:
There’s great 12-part programme you can follow.
Everyone should know their blood pressure. It is recommend that everyone over 40 gets their blood pressure checked at least every five years so that any potential problems can be detected early. You can arrange to have your blood pressure checked in a number of places including your GP, your occupational health provider, gym, pharmacy or as part of your NHS Health check.