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Is Your Number Up? 

1 in 2 heart attacks & strokes are linked to high blood pressure.

Check your blood pressure to know your numbers.

We are running our blood pressure campaign to raise awareness of untreated high blood pressure, which is often known as The Silent Killer. 

High blood pressure often has no visible signs or symptoms. It is therefore important to get your blood pressure checked, get treatment if necessary, and change your lifestyle if your blood pressure numbers are high.

Keep reading to find out more about high blood pressure and how you can get yours checked to find out if your number's up.

What is High Blood Pressure?

Bp guide

If your blood pressure is consistently higher than 140/90mmHg then you may have high blood pressure.

High blood pressure is not a disease in itself. However, it can lead to an increased risk of heart disease and strokes.

High blood pressure puts pressure on your heart, making it work harder. Over the years untreated high blood pressure slowly damages the blood vessels by making them narrower and more rigid. It can also cause small tears and damage to the insides of the blood vessels.

As your blood vessels become more damaged and rigid, your heart has to work even harder to push the blood through your blood vessels and the overall blood pressure rises further. It becomes easier for clots to get caught and for fatty debris (atheroma) to block your 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 high blood pressure can lead to heart attack, heart failure or stroke and other conditions like dementia.

6 out of 10 strokes could be prevented by managing high blood pressure and leading a healthy lifestyle.

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Blood pressure check 2

Keeping an eye on your Blood Pressure

High blood pressure rarely has any symptoms. The only way to know 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, however, if you are at greater risk due to factors such as a family history with high blood pressure, you may wish to get it checked more regularly. Even if you are on high blood pressure medication, you should still have your blood pressure checked once a year. Your blood pressure could still be high and you may not know it. If this is the case, you will need to speak to your GP to make adjustments to your lifestyle or medication to treat it further.

People with type 2 diabetes should have their blood pressure checked annually.

There are a number of ways you can get your blood pressure checked:

  • Make an appointment with your GP
  • Visit your local pharmacy which may operate a blood pressure monitoring service
  • Buy a blood pressure machine for home monitoring
  • Book a Well Check with NICHS - to find more information about our health checks, click here.
  • Come along to one of our FREE Pop-Up Blood Pressure Checks taking place at MACE stores and other locations across NI during our campaign - see the full list of dates and locations below.

If your blood pressure is checked at your pharmacy, during an NICHS Well Check or with an at home blood pressure monitor and is consistently showing over 140/90mmHg, we recommend you make an appointment with your GP for further tests. If you experience any stroke or heart attack symptoms, always treat this as an emergency and call 999.

Checking your Blood Pressure at Home

Buying a blood pressure monitor to use at home can allow you to check your blood pressure easily and regularly. Watch our step-by-step video guide below and download our FAQ Guide to find out more.


  • Blood Pressure Monitoring at Home – Frequently Asked Questions
    Download pdf
Supported by MACE Green

Get a FREE Pop-Up Blood Pressure Check

We are delighted that our corporate partner MACE is supporting our blood pressure campaign. Our Health Promotion team will be visiting a number of MACE stores and other locations across NI throughout May and June to provide pop-up blood pressure checks to local communities. We want to provide people with a convenient opportunity to get their blood pressure checked. We understand how busy everyday life can be but making time for your health is so important, so why not get a check when you visit the MACE stores for some shopping?

Check out the pop-up checks planned below, and keep an eye on our social media platforms for updates as more dates and locations will be announced soon!

Venue

Date

Time

Abbey Centre

17th May

11am-3pm

MACE Coleraine 277 Dunhill Road, Coleraine BT51 3QJ

28th May

10am-2pm

MACE Park Centre Donegall Road, Belfast BT12 6HN31st May10am-2pm
MACE Lurgan, 124 Victoria St, Lurgan, Craigavon BT67 9DG12th June10am-2pm


Blood Pressure Stories and Blogs:

News

“Finding out how high my blood pressure was could have saved my life”- Justine urges public to check blood pressure on World Hypertension Day

Justine Daly was not concerned about her health but that all changed in an instant when she was diagnosed with dangerously high blood pressure and told she needed to seek immediate medical advice. Justine is sharing her story on World Hypertension Day (17th May) in support of the charity’s current blood pressure awareness campaign.

Blog

Ask the Expert: Pharmacist Cliff McElhinney on the Importance of Blood Pressure Medication

Your diet can have a big impact on your blood pressure levels. Here, Vanessa McMinn, SHSCT Public Health Dietitian, who is supporting our blood pressure campaign answers your top questions about the important relationship between diet and blood pressure.

Blog

Ask the Expert: Dietician Vanessa McMinn on Lowering Your Blood Pressure Through Diet

Your diet can have a big impact on your blood pressure levels. Here, Vanessa McMinn, SHSCT Public Health Dietitian, who is supporting our blood pressure campaign answers your top questions about the important relationship between diet and blood pressure.
Blood pressure 1

Top Tips for a Healthy Blood Pressure

Maintaining a healthy blood pressure will help reduce your risk of heart and circulatory disease.

There are several changes you can make to your lifestyle to reduce high blood pressure and to maintain a healthy blood pressure:

  1. Reduce Salt Intake - Adults should eat no more than 6g of salt a day (approx. a teaspoonful). Read the labels on food packaging, choose foods lower in salt and try replacing salt with pepper, herbs and spices to add flavour.
  2. Be More Active - Move more and sit less! Adults should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity physical activity each week. 2 days of strengthening exercises should also be included.
  3. Maintain a Healthy Weight - Being overweight means your heart must work harder to do everyday tasks- this leads to high blood pressure. Maintaining a healthy weight involves a combination of eating a healthy diet and being more physically active.
  4. Limit Alcohol Intake - Drinking too much alcohol increases the risk of high blood pressure and can cause weight gain. We should drink no more than 14 units of alcohol per week, with several alcohol-free days. Men should have no more than 8 units and women no more than 6 units of alcohol per session.
  5. Increase Fruit and Vegetable Consumption - Fruit and vegetables contain vitamins and minerals, along with fibre which help to reduce the risk of high blood pressure and improve our heart health. We should aim for 5 portions a day which can be fresh, frozen, canned, dried or juiced.

6 out of 10 strokes could be prevented by managing high blood pressure and leading a healthy lifestyle.

If you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, you should also take medication for high blood pressure as prescribed by your doctor or health professional in addition to making changes to your lifestyle, unless your health professional is happy for you to stop your medication. If you are on blood pressure medication, you should go for an annual blood pressure check to review your medication.

Click here to find out more about lifestyle changes you can make to keep healthy.

Find out more about Blood Pressure

  • 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.

    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 extremely low blood pressure can also be dangerous.

    People with a reading of around 90/60mmHg or lower are generally considered to have low blood pressure. For some, there may be an underlying cause that could need treatment.

  • 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 to reduce your blood pressure. It is also important to take any medication prescribed by your doctor.

    High blood pressure can sometimes be inherited from our family. It can also increase with age.

  • On Thursday 1st June 2023 we hosted a live blood pressure advice session online for the public who want to find out more information about preventing, detecting, and managing high blood pressure to reduce the risk of having a stroke or heart attack.

    This advice session allowed people to have immediate access to clinicians and health professionals to answer any questions about blood pressure on the night.

    We also had demonstrations on how to measure your blood pressure at home, and provided information on how to keep your blood pressure at a healthy level.

    Joining us were:

    • Professor Aaron Peace - Consultant Cardiologist
    • Dr Naoimh White - GP Partner at Rowntree Practice
    • Vanessa McMinn - Public Health Dietician

    Watch back the recording of the live session to find out more.


  • Watch back our previous Online Blood Pressure Advice session held on Tuesday 27th September 2022.

      Joining us were:

      • Dr Carol Wilson, Consultant Cardiologist, Belfast
      • Dr Grainne Bonnar– Doctor / General Practitioner
      • Hannah Williamson - Health Promotion Manager, NI Chest Heart and Stroke
      • Dietician - Sophie Boyle

      You can watch the session below.

    • Blood Pressure Videos

      Check out our videos about blood pressure and how to get yours checked so you know if your number's up.

    Downloads: