Blood pressure is a measure of the force that your heart uses to pump blood around your body.
Blood pressure is recorded with two numbers. The systolic pressure (higher number) is the force at which your heart pumps blood around your body.
The diastolic pressure (lower number) is the resistance to the blood flow in the blood vessels. They’re both measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg).As a general guide
• high blood pressure is considered to be 140/90mmHg or higher
• ideal blood pressure is considered to be between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg
• low blood pressure is considered to be 90/60mmHg or lower
A blood pressure reading between 120/80mmHg and 140/90mmHg could mean you’re at risk of developing high blood pressure if you don’t take steps to keep your blood pressure under control.
Risk of High Blood Pressure :
If your blood pressure is too high, it puts extra strain on your blood vessels, heart and other organs, such as the brain, kidneys and eyes. Persistent high blood pressure can increase your risk of a number of serious and potentially life-threatening conditions, such as:
• heart disease
• heart attacks
• heart failure
• peripheral arterial disease
• aortic aneurysms
• kidney disease
• vascular dementia.
High blood pressure
High blood pressure is often related to unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as smoking, drinking too much alcohol, being overweight and not exercising enough.
Left untreated, high blood pressure can increase your risk of developing a number of serious long-term health conditions, such as coronary heart disease and kidney disease.
Low blood pressure
Low blood pressure is less common. Some medications can cause low blood pressure as a side effect. It can also be caused by a number of underlying conditions, including heart failure and dehydration.
Check your blood pressure
The only way of knowing whether you have high blood pressure is to have a blood pressure test.
All adults over 40 are advised to have their blood pressure checked at least every five years. Getting this done is easy and could save your life.
You can get your blood pressure tested at a number of places, including:
• at your doctors surgery
• at some pharmacies
• as part of your Local health centre Health Check
• in some workplaces
• You can also check your blood pressure yourself with a home blood pressure monitor.
If you have high blood pressure, reducing it even a small amount can help lower your risk of these conditions.
Causes of high blood pressure
Causes of high blood pressure
It’s not always clear what causes high blood pressure, but certain things can increase your risk.
You’re at an increased risk of high blood pressure if you:
• are over the age of 65
• are overweight or obese
• are of African or Caribbean descent
• have a relative with high blood pressure
• eat too much salt and don’t eat enough fruit and vegetables
• don’t do enough exercise
• drink too much alcohol or coffee (or other caffeine-based drinks)
• don’t get much sleep or have disturbed sleep
Making healthy lifestyle changes can help reduce your chances of getting high blood pressure and help lower your blood pressure if it’s already high.
How to reduce your blood pressure
Reduce your blood pressure
The following lifestyle changes can help prevent and lower high blood pressure:
• reduce the amount of salt you eat and have a generally healthy diet
• cut back on alcohol if you drink too much
• lose weight if you’re overweight
• exercise regularly
• cut down on caffeine
• stop smoking
• try to get at least six hours of sleep a night
An unhealthy lifestyle will raise your blood pressure over time. And the higher your blood pressure becomes, the higher your risk of having a stroke or heart attack in the future.
But the good news is that if you have high blood pressure, healthy changes will help to bring it down. And you don’t have to wait until you have high blood pressure to make healthy lifestyle changes. The more you can reduce your blood pressure, the lower your risk of a heart attack or stroke will be.
Too much salt raises your blood pressure, so it is important to eat as little as possible. In fact, some people with high blood pressure may be able to avoid blood pressure medicines by cutting down on salt.
Don’t add salt to food when cooking or at the table. When shopping for food, check the labels and choose low-salt options when you can.
2. Blood Pressure Diet – Eat more fruit and vegetables
Eating more fruit and vegetables helps to lower your blood pressure. Adults should eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables every day. A portion is 80 grams, or roughly the size of your fist.
Try to eat a range of different fruits and vegetables. Dried, frozen and tinned are fine, but watch out for added salt, sugar or fats.
3. Blood Pressure Diet – Keep to a healthy weight
Losing weight, if you need to, will help lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of health problems. The best way to lose weight is to choose more low-fat and low-calorie foods, and increase your physical activity.
Set yourself realistic goals. Make small changes to your eating habits and activity levels that you can keep to for life.
4. Blood Pressure Diet – Drink less alcohol
If you drink too much alcohol, this will raise your blood pressure over time. The current recommended limits are 14 units of alcohol a week for men and women. A unit is roughly half a pint of beer or cider, a small glass of wine, or a single pub measure of spirits.
If you keep to the recommended alcohol limits, this should help keep your blood pressure down.
5. Blood Pressure and Exercise – Get more active
Being moderately active for 30 minutes five times a week can keep your heart healthy, and can lower your blood pressure. If you can’t find 30 minutes in your day, increasing your activity by even a small amount can help.
Think about how you can be more active in your daily life. Any activity that leaves you feeling warm and slightly out of breath is ideal.Medication for high blood pressure
If you’re diagnosed with high blood pressure, your doctor may recommend taking one or more medicines to keep it under control.
These usually need to be taken once a day.
Common blood pressure medications include: PLEASE SEE YOUR DOCTOR/PHYSICIAN BEFORE TAKING ANY MEDICATION .
• ACE inhibitors – such as enalapril, lisinopril, perindopril and ramipril
• angiotensin-2 receptor blockers (ARBs) – such as candesartan, irbesartan, losartan, valsartan and olmesartan
• calcium channel blockers – such as amlodipine, felodipine and nifedipine or diltiazem and verapamil.
• diuretics – such as indapamide and bendroflumethiazide
• beta-blockers – such as atenolol and bisoprolol
• alpha-blockers – such as doxazosin
• renin inhibitors – such as aliskiren
• other diuretics – such as amiloride and spironolactone
The medication recommended for you will depend on things like how high your blood pressure is and your age. Healthy blood pressure diet
Healthy blood pressure diet
Your diet – what you eat and drink – has a real effect on your heart and blood pressure. The more healthy your eating habits are, the lower your blood pressure will be.
If you have high blood pressure, it is even more important to make healthy changes to your diet. If you take medicines for your blood pressure, then a healthy blood pressure diet can reduce the number you may need. For a few people, following blood pressure friendly eating habits may help them to avoid medicines altogether.
Increase your fibre. Start the day with plain, unsweetened/unsalted porridge sprinkled with ground flaxseeds, snack on raw nuts and carrot and celery sticks. Switch all carbohydrates to whole grains such as brown rice, whole wheat pasta and quinoa. Add pulses to soups and stews, and have an extra portion of vegetables or a salad with your sandwich instead of crisps.
Oily fish such as trout, wild salmon, sardines and mackerel contain anti-inflammatory essential fats, also known as good cholesterol. Eat two to three times per week.
Beetroot contains nitrates which support vasodilation (the dilation of blood vessels) which in turn reduces blood pressure. Try juicing beetroot with carrot, apple and ginger, roast it or grate it into a salad.
Smelly breath may be worth your while if blood pressure is a concern for you. Garlic contains allicin, a natural antibiotic, and is linked to blood pressure improvements. It needs to be raw and plentiful, so think about adding it to an olive oil and lemon juice salad dressing or stir it in at the end of cooking.
Antioxidants and vitamin C
Antioxidant and vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables include carrots, asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, watercress, cabbage, tomatoes, blueberries, kiwi and kale. Here’s a tip if you don’t particularly like sprouts: roast them in olive oil and add balsamic vinegar in the last 10 minutes of cooking to give them a lovely glaze. They also work well sliced in a stir fry.
Pomegranate has a number of beneficial properties for cardiovascular health. Stir pomegranate seeds into plain natural yoghurt and sprinkle ground flaxseeds on top. Get plenty of the benefits by drinking a small glass of pomegranate juice (with no added sugar) daily.
Magnesium is needed for muscles to relax after contraction and may help with high blood pressure. Get it from dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, Brussels sprouts, Swiss chard; whole grains such as quinoa and brown rice; and nuts and seeds such as raw cashews, sesame and pumpkin seeds.