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Around 16 million people in the UK are suffering with high blood pressure. That equates to around 1 in 3 adults and rises up to at least 1 in 2 in people aged over 65 (Age UK, 2021). Do you know if yours is high and how you can prevent it?
What is high blood pressure?
High blood pressure (hypertension) is a very common medical condition, which often has no noticeable symptoms, so you may not realise you have it until your blood pressure is checked by your doctor (NHS, 2021).
Our blood pressure refers to the pressure that is exerted onto our blood vessels when blood is pumped around the body by the heart. It's measured by two numbers; systolic and diastolic pressures, both measured in mmHg.
The systolic pressure (the higher number) is a measure of the force at which you heart pumps blood around the body, the diastolic pressure (the lower number) refers to the resistance to the blood flow in the blood vessels (NHS, 2021; Patient UK, 2021). When we are given a blood pressure reading this is referred to as systolic pressure/diastolic pressure e.g 120/80 mmHg.
As a general guide, we would be considered to have high blood pressure if:
- as an adult our blood pressure is 140/90mmHg or above
- if you are over the age of 80 and your blood pressure s 150/90 mmHg or above.
(While we will all have different 'normal' blood pressures, and our blood pressure will fluctuate day to day and throughout the day an 'ideal' blood pressure is considered to be between 90/60 mmHg and 120/80mmHg (NHS, 2021).
Complications of high blood pressure
If our blood pressure remains elevated for long periods of time this can put an extra strain on our heart and cardiovascular system, as well as other organs in the body including our eyes, kidneys and brain. This puts us at higher risk of developing certain conditions, some off which may be potentially serious or life changing (NHS,2021). Some of these potential complications include:
- Heart attack
- Peripheral artery disease
- Vascular dementia
- Kidney disease
- Heart failure
- Aortic aneurysms.
While this can all sound quite overwhelming, the good news is that high blood pressure is a very treatable condition and there are lots of lifestyle changes you can employ to reduce your blood pressure. Even a small reduction in your blood pressure can have a great impact on your health and wellbeing and reduce the risks of complications.
Keep scrolling to find out what causes high blood pressure and how you can help yourself keep your blood pressure under control.