Do you know how high your blood pressure is? There are eight million people in the UK with undiagnosed high blood pressure and if you haven't had a blood pressure check recently you could be one of them. High blood pressure it easy to miss because there aren't really any symptoms, so it's important to get yours checked out regularly.
Your blood pressure is the force at which your blood pushes against your blood vessels as it’s carried around your body. Having high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, could put extra strain on your blood vessels and heart and lead to heart disease or stroke. Ignoring high blood pressure could also increase your risk of dementia, kidney disease and peripheral arterial disease, which could affect your ability to walk.
When you have a check up you'll see that your blood pressure measurement has two different numbers. The top number is your systolic blood pressure. It is the highest level your blood pressure reaches when your heart beats. The bottom number is your diastolic blood pressure. It is the lowest level your blood pressure reaches as your heart relaxes between beats. Ideally you should aim for a pressure below 120 over 80.
You can measure your own blood pressure with a home blood pressure monitor. It’s a good idea to do this in the morning and evening every day for a week so you can find what’s normal for you. Then you can check it every few months if you’re healthy, or every week if you already have high blood pressure. Try to take the readings at the same time of day for accurate results. If you don’t have your own monitor many pharmacies offer free blood pressure tests, including Lloyds Pharmacy .
If you do have high blood pressure it’s never too late to lower your number. Reducing your salt intake, keeping your weight down, exercising regularly, eating more fruit and vegetables and cutting down on alcohol could all make a big difference. If you’re worried about your numbers see your GP because there are prescription medications available to help bring your blood pressure down and reduce your risk of heart disease.
For more information visit www.bloodpressureuk.org