What is it?
When your heart beats, it pumps blood around your body to give it energy and oxygen. As the blood moves, it pushes against the sides of the blood vessels. The strength of this pushing is your blood pressure. If the pressure is too high, it puts extra strain on your arteries (and your heart) and this may lead to heart attacks and strokes.
Blood pressure readings have two numbers, for example 140 over 90. The top number is the systolic pressure– this is the highest pressure when your heart contracts and pushes blood around your body. The bottom number is the diastolic pressure – this is the lowest pressure when your heart relaxes in between beats.
Ideally, we should all have a blood pressure below 120/80. This is the ideal level for good health and lower risk of heart disease or stroke.
What’s too high? (Hypertenstion)
- if your top number is 140 or more – then you may have hypertension, regardless of your bottom number.
- if your bottom number is 90 or more – then you may have hypertension, regardless your top number.
What’s too low? (Hypotension)
- if your top number is 90 or less – then you may have hypotension, regardless of your bottom number.
- if your bottom number is 60 or less – then you may have hypotension, regardless of your top number.
- Hypotension is uncommon and usually harmless
High blood pressure usually has no obvious symptoms and many people have it without knowing.
The only way to know is to have your blood pressure measured. It is estimated that more than 5 million people don’t know they have high blood pressure in the UK- that’s why it’s called the silent killer.
In some rare cases, where a person has very high blood pressure, they can experience symptoms, including:
• a persistent headache
• blurred or double vision
• shortness of breath
Hypertension Health Risks
High blood pressure puts extra strain on your heart and blood vessels. This can cause them to become weaker or damaged.
The higher your blood pressure, the higher your risk of serious health problems in the future, including:
Damage to your heart – it can cause you to have a heart attack and heart failure.
Damage to your brain – it can cause strokes. It has also been closely linked to some forms of dementia.
Damage to your kidneys
Damage to your limbs – it can cause peripheral arterial disease, which can affect your legs.
If you have other health conditions, such as diabetes or high cholesterol, this increases your risk of health problems even more. It is then even more important to lower your high blood pressure.
High risk groups include the over 55s, people of African Caribbean descent, and people of South Asian origin who are more prone to other vascular conditions.
How to get high blood pressure under control:
Firstly – know your numbers! As symptoms are rare, you won’t know if your blood pressure is high unless you check!
- Eat less salt – use salt substitues such as herbamare
- More fruit and veg which contain essential minerals such as potassium and magnesium which help control blood pressure. Coconut water is also a great source of potassium.
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Drink Less alcohol
- Keep active
- Reduce stimulants caffeine tea and coffee
- Garlic supplements
- Omega-3 rich fish oil supplements
- Hawthorne extract supplements
- Antioxidants supplements, including Resveratrol, Co-Enzyme Q10
- Beetroot juice
- Pomegranate juice