Today marks the start of Blood Pressure UK’s flagship awareness campaign – Know Your Numbers Week 2017 (18th Sept – 24th Sept). This campaign encourages individuals in the UK to know their blood pressure numbers and give advice and tips on how to maintain an ideal blood pressure.
Across the UK, free blood pressure checks for around 250,000 adults will be provided to assess whether individuals are within the ideal blood pressure range. This will be done at venues known as Pressure stations, which are located in community centres, pharmacies, workplaces, GP surgeries, hospitals and shopping centres. You can find your nearest free blood pressure check here.
What is blood pressure?
Blood pressure is the measure of the force of blood against your blood vessels. Blood pressure readings are expressed as 2 numbers:
1) Systolic pressure: The first (or top number) which is the highest level your blood pressure reaches when your heart beats
2) Diastolic pressure: The second (or bottom number) which is the lowest level your blood pressure reaches as your heart relaxes between beats.
• A normal blood pressure for a healthy adult = 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg
• High blood pressure =140/90mmHg or higher
• Low blood pressure = 90/60mmHg or lower
Health risks associated with high blood pressure
Having a high blood pressure can put extra strain on your arteries, heart and other organs, like the brain and kidney. Furthermore, having a high blood pressure can advance your risk of developing a number of health conditions such as heart disease, heart attack, stroke, kidney disease and vascular dementia. Thus, knowing how to prevent high blood pressure or reduce your blood pressure if it is high is vital to lowers risks of these conditions.
Who may be at an increased risk?
There are individuals who may be at increased risk of high blood pressure such as those who are:
• over the age of 65
• overweight or obese
• of African or Caribbean origin
• have a relative with high blood pressure
• consume a lot of salt and don’t eat enough fruit and vegetables
• physically inactive
• drink too much alcohol
• have inadequate amount of sleep
How to reduce your blood pressure levels
There are daily lifestyle habits that can be adopted in order to prevent and lower high blood pressure. It can be lowered by cutting down on smoking – you can get help to stop smoking by speaking to your GP, joining your local stop smoking service and online support.
Reducing your salt intake can help reduce your blood pressure. The recommended daily amount is less than 6 grams (equivalent to 1 teaspoon). You can use other flavouring alternatives to give your food that extra taste, such as adding herbs and spices.
Watching your alcohol intake can also help to lower your blood pressure by following the recommended guidelines. The recommended guidelines for both men and women is no more than 14 units in any week, that’s about 6 pints of 4% larger, or 6 medium glasses of wine, and no more than 8 units for men or 6 units for women in any one day.
Additionally, getting a good amount of sleep (at least 6 hours) can help to lower the chances of having high blood pressure.
There are some people who may need to take medication(s) to lower their blood pressure if it is too high. Choose today to check your blood pressure at your nearest pressure testing point and consult with your Doctor or Healthcare Professional first before taking any medications or for any other information.