High blood pressure: What is the condition and how YOU can check it

The condition is believed to affect around one in four adults in the UK.

High blood pressure can increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. It can also increase the risk of heart disease, heart failure, aortic aneurysms, kidney disease and vascular dementia.

The only way to know if you have high blood pressure is to have it checked by doctors at a GP surgery, or pharmacy or as part of an NHS health check.

People can also measure their blood pressure at home.

Blood pressure is recorded with two numbers.

The systolic pressure is the higher number - and measures the force at which your heart pumps blood around your body.

The diastolic pressure is the lower number - and measures the resistance to the blood flow in the blood vessels.

Both are measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg).

High blood pressure is considered to be 140/90mmHg or higher.

Normal blood pressure is considered to be between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg

Low blood pressure is considered to be 90/60mmHg or lower.

High blood pressure risk is greater in people over the age of 65, or among those who are overweight or obese.

It is more common in people of African or Caribbean descent, have relatives with high blood pressure, eat too much salt, don’t do enough exercise and drink too much alcohol or coffee.

People who smoke, or don’t get enough sleep are also at greater risk.

Dr Anshu Bhagat, NHS-registered GP and founder of doctor-on-demand app GPDQ said: “As many as 7 million people in the UK are living with undiagnosed high blood pressure, without knowing they are at risk.

“Blood pressure is known as the ‘silent killer’ because usually there are no signs or symptoms – the only way to know whether you have high blood pressure or not is to have it measured.

“This is why it is important for you to have your blood pressure checked regularly.

“Think of it as part of an MOT for your body, and a number that you should know in the same way that you would know how much you weigh or how tall you are.

“Aside from unhealthy habits and having a poor diet, I think one of the main causes of high blood pressure is the sedentary lifestyle we have all adopted – with the proliferation of technology, everything is accessible to us via our smartphones.

“Our nation is heavier than ever – Britons are now the second-fattest race in the developed world behind America and obesity rates have quadrupled in the past 25 years.

“It’s serious issue – every month, 7,400 people die from heart disease or stroke. Persistent high blood pressure increases the risk of serious and potentially life-threatening conditions, damaging the heart, brain, and kidneys.

“You may have increased risk of high blood pressure if you are aged over 40 and overweight, although you can reduce the chances by having a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, doing daily exercise, quit smoking, cutting down on caffeine, and by sticking to the British Medical Association’s sensible drinking limits – 14 units a week for both men and women.

“It’s important that everyone over 40 gets their blood pressure taken by a nurse or doctor as part of a health check to assess their risk for getting cardiovascular disease.

“However, everyone, no matter their age, should monitor their blood pressure regularly and take advantage of the kiosks available at GP surgeries and pharmacies.

“There is even talk of shoppers having their blood pressure checked at supermarket tills. Under NHS proposals, planners are finding creative ways to carry out checks, making it non-excusable for everyone to monitor their blood pressure.”


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