What is high blood pressure?


What causes it?

In many cases it is not known, this is called Essential or Primary high blood pressure. Some cases are due to existing medical problems, age, genetic, Ethnicity – Black Caribbean men and women are more likely to have high BP than the general population or medication; this is called Secondary High Blood Pressure. There are other reasons that can be under our own control….

Become Physically active

Blood pressure is measured in mmhr (millimetres of mercury), studies have shown that regular cardio-vascular exercise can help to reduce blood pressure by 10mmg, enough in some cases for the exerciser to reduce or avoid taking medication.
Cardio Vascular exercise, something that you enjoy; walking, dancing, cycling, swimming, exercise classes, the gym, football or any activity where you are warmer and you are slightly out of breath for 150 minutes a week (2 hours 30 minutes). You don’t have to go at a mad pace, moderate exercise is better for health improvement.

Lower your salt intake

Salt is hidden within many every day processed foods including soup, tomato sauce, bread and pre-cooked meals. We then add more to our cooking pots and even more at the table. We only need 6g (1 tea spoon) per day so try to limit the amount added to food and opt for the lower salt alternatives. Instead of adding salt to the pot add herbs and spices. You’ll be amazed how lovely food tastes when not disguised with salt.
Stop Smoking

Smoking does not directly cause high blood pressure but it does increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Smoking, like high blood pressure, causes the arteries to narrow. If you are a smoker and you have high blood pressure this will cause the arteries to become narrow quicker and increase the risks of heart disease.

Eat your fruit and Veg!

Fruit and vegetables are full of nutrients, minerals and fibres that keep your body in good condition. Remember to eat your 5 a day! A healthy well-balanced diet will help to keep your body fat to a healthy level. The more over-weight you are the harder your heart has to work to pump blood around your body.

Be careful what you drink

Regular alcohol consumption contributes to developing high blood pressure if it is above the NHS guidelines; 3-4 units a day (1 ½ pints of 4% beer) for men and 2-3 units (175ml of wine) a day for women.Alcohol and smoking may act as a temporary relief to stress but they are actually stimulants and will only make matters worse in the long run.

Learn how to relax

The body produces a surge of hormones when in a stressful situation. Hormones are temporarily released in to the blood stream which increases the heart rate and the arteries to narrow. Over time these hormones can cause damage to the arteries resulting in heart disease. You need to learn how to switch off, we all have our favourite ways of relaxing, a hot bath, a good book or you could try Hatha Yoga or Tai Chi. These sessions will teach you breathing techniques and gentle exercises that help you to reverse the effects of our stressful lives.

Have your blood pressure checked regularly

Pop into the Stevenage Arts and Leisure Centre every Wednesday morning for a free blood pressure test, it could save your life!

If the condition is untreated it can lead to

Knowing that you have it can make you take steps to try and reduce it. Just over half of people who have High BP are not being treated and a third of these people don’t even know that they have it. Your blood pressure is at its highest when the heart pumps the blood into the system, this is called Systolic pressure. When the heart is at rest between beats your blood pressure falls, this is Diastolic pressure. Usually they are written one above the other or before and after. 120 / 80 the top number is the systolic and the bottom is the diastolic

There are 2 levels of high blood pressure, stage 1 and stage 2. Normal Systolic less than 120 Diastolic less than 80

140 / 90 will be considered as high. If you are being treated for high BP you will still be classed as having high BP even if you have repeated readings within a normal range.
There is an exception to the above; high blood pressure will be 130/ 80 or higher in persons with diabetes, Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) or chronic kidney disease.

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