High Blood Pressure
If your blood pressure is consistently higher than it should be it is called high blood pressure (or hypertension).
High blood pressure is not a disease in itself. However, it can lead to an increased risk of heart disease and strokes.
Over the years high blood pressure slowly damages the blood vessels by making them narrower and more rigid.
This means your heart has to work harder to push the blood through your blood vessels and the overall blood pressure rises. It is easier for clots to get caught and for fatty debris (atheroma) to block your blood vessels.
This is what happens in heart attacks and strokes.
Over 273,895 people in Northern Ireland are registered with high blood pressure, that is 14% of the population with a 2% increase in high blood pressure rates over the last two years.
Manage High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure rarely has any symptoms. The only way to know what your blood pressure (BP) is to have it measured.
High blood pressure is more common as you get older so it is important to get it checked regularly.
It is recommended that you have your blood pressure checked at least every 5 years from the age of 40.
High blood pressure puts pressure on your heart, making it work harder. It can cause small tears and damage to the insides of the blood vessels. This can result in clots that may travel to the heart or brain and cause a heart attack or stroke. Failure to detect and treat blood pressure can lead to heart attack, heart failure or stroke and other conditions such as dementia.
You can get blood pressure checked with NICHS or make an appointment with your GP. You can also buy BP machines for home monitoring of your BP.
“It is very good of you to follow up on my blood pressure position. I saw my GP in early December and had a 24hr monitor check which confirmed raised BP. He has prescribed 5mg Amlodipine per day and my wife has been monitoring my BP daily since. It is now generally 140-150 / 80-90 and I have to go back to my GP in mid to late January for a reassessment. I really need to lose some weight, which is the hard part!” Male Client, Belfast
How is blood pressure measured?
When your blood pressure is taken, two measurements are recorded during a single heartbeat. When your blood pressure is written down you will see a top number and a bottom number.
- Systolic Pressure is the top number. This is the pressure when your heart pumps blood through arteries and around your body.
- Diastolic pressure is the bottom number. This is the pressure when your heart is resting in between beats.
Blood pressure is measured in millimetres of mercury or mmHg. When a person has high blood pressure, the numbers on their readings begin to rise above the levels of 140/90mmHg. Ideal blood pressure is between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg.
If your blood pressure is consistently higher than 140/90mmHg then you may have high blood pressure, which is medically known as hypertension.
If you suffer from diabetes, your blood pressure needs to be under 130/80mmHg.
One reading alone cannot diagnose high blood pressure. It must be recorded over a period of time.
Generally, the lower your blood pressure, the healthier you are. But low blood pressure can also be dangerous.
People with a reading of around 90/60 or lower are generally considered to have low blood pressure. For some, there may be an underlying cause that could need treatment.
What causes 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. Making changes to your lifestyle will help reduce your blood pressure. It is also important to take any medication prescribed by your doctor. The only way you will know your blood pressure is to get it measured.
Blood pressure can sometimes be inherited from our families and can increase with age. It is therefore important that you reduce your lifestyle the risks that you have more control over.
Our Well Checks include a blood pressure test - Book yours online here.
What can I do to reduce my blood pressure?
Changes to lifestyle risk factors can significantly reduce high blood pressure.
You can help to reduce your blood pressure by:
1. Losing weight
2. Reducing your salt intake
3. Limiting the amount of alcohol you drink
4. Taking regular exercise and being more active
5. Increasing the amount of fruit and vegetables you eat