What is blood pressure?

As your heart beats, it pumps blood around your body. This provides the body with both the energy and oxygen it needs. As the blood moves it pushes against the sides of the blood vessels and it is your blood pressure that determines the strength of this pushing.

But how can you tell if you have high blood pressure or not?
Around 30% of people in the UK have high blood pressure and do not know it. If untreated your arteries and heart will be put under strain increasing your risk of having a heart attack or stroke. It very often referred to as the 'silent killer'.

Having high blood pressure is not something particularly noticeable and does not often produce any obvious signs or symptoms. The only way of knowing if there is a problem is to have your blood pressure measured.

All adults should have their blood pressure checked a minimum of every five years. If you have not had yours tested and do not know what your reading is, as your GP to check it for you.

Blood pressure is measured in ‘millimetres of mercury’ (mmHg) and is written as two numbers. For example, if your reading is 120/80mmHg, your blood pressure is ‘120 over 80’.

But what do these numbers mean?

The first number is your systolic blood pressure. This is the highest level your blood pressure reaches when your heart beats.

The second number is you diastolic blood pressure. This is the lowest level your blood pressure reaches as your heart relaxes between beats.

Visit Blood Pressure UK

Who is at risk?

Your chances of developing high blood pressure increase as you get older. Very often it is unlikely to find a clear cause but you will be at higher risk if you:
- are overweight
- smoke
- have a relative with high blood pressure
- eat too much salt
- are of African or Caribbean descent
- are aged over 65
- do not eat enough fruit and vegetables
- drink too much coffee (or other caffeine based drinks)
- do not exercise enough

If you find yourself falling into one of these categories it may be time to consider some changes in your lifestyle in order to lower your risks. It is recommended that you check your blood pressure one a year ideally.

Prevention and treatments:
There are many ways to prevent high blood pressure, you can:
- loosing weight
- exercising regularly
- eating healthy
- stopping smoking
- cutting down on caffeine
- reducing your alcohol consumption
- reducing the amount of salt you eat.

If your blood pressure is high it will need to be monitored - closely in order to successfully reduce it. Your GP will suggest certain changes to your lifestyle and sometimes prescribe medication in order to ascertain this goal.

Our pharmacists are trained and able to give you advice about having high blood pressure, pop in to your local Wilsons today. You may also be eligible for our MUR or NMS services so please do pop in if you have any questions regarding any issues with high blood pressure. See our services page for more information.

Using a home blood pressure monitor:
Using a home blood pressure monitor is extremely useful in order to see what your blood pressure is like during daily life. To get accurate readings you need to make sure you are using both the correct technique and the correct monitor. Whichever monitor you choose you MUST make sure that it has been 'clinically validated' in order to give you accurate results.

Facts and figures

"Around 30% of people in the UK have high blood pressure and do not know it. If untreated your arteries and heart will be put under strain increasing your risk of having a heart attack or stroke."
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