Do you know your blood pressure? And if so, do you know what those numbers mean?
Many people across the UK don’t. That’s why charity Blood Pressure UK is running their campaign, “Know Your Numbers Week” between 7th and 13th September to help encourage adults to take better care of their health.
It’s important to know your blood pressure numbers because having high blood pressure can put you at a greater risk of health problems as it puts extra strain on your blood vessels and your heart.
Over time, this extra pressure can cause your arteries to become less flexible, weaker and thicker. This can cause them to narrow and more likely to become clogged.
In turn, this can lead to a range of health problems including stroke, heart attack, kidney problems and dementia. Occasionally a blood vessel can burst which can cause a heart attack or even a stroke.
How is blood pressure measured?
You can find out your blood pressure by using a blood pressure monitor. This uses an inflatable cuff that will be placed around your upper arm and then inflated by hand or automatically.
As the name suggests, it measures the pressure of your blood as it moves around your body, providing you with two different numbers such as 120/80 (120 over 80)
The first number is known as your ‘systolic blood pressure’ and refers to when your heart is beating and pumping blood through your arteries. The second is your ‘diastolic blood pressure’ and refers to when your heart is resting between beats.
When considered together, these numbers help provide an accurate picture of your overall heart and artery health.
What is high blood pressure?
High blood pressure is when one of these readings is higher than the average. This number applies to all ages, whether you’re in your twenties or in your nineties. The ideal blood pressure is between 90/60 and 120/80.
Although we don’t want your blood pressure readings to be high, it doesn’t always point to a problem. Your blood pressure can be affected by many things, including physical activity, drinking tea, coffee and cola or even eating chocolate. For that reason, it’s important to take several measurements to gain a better idea.
What about low blood pressure? What is it and is it bad?
On the other hand, low blood pressure is defined as 90/60 or lower and it’s usually nothing to worry about.
However, for some people, low blood pressure can signal an underlying problem, especially if it drops suddenly or is accompanied by signs and symptoms such as:
Dizziness or feeling lightheaded
Blurred or fading vision
Lack of concentration
If you start experiencing any of these, then it’s time to consult your GP.
High blood pressure can often be prevented or you can reduce this yourself by following these steps:
Eating healthy and cutting down on the amount of salt in your food.
Limiting your alcohol intake and staying within the recommended levels – no more than 14 units a week and spreading these over a number of days.
Losing weight so your heart is not having to work as hard.
Getting active and taking regular exercise – adults should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week.
Cutting down on caffeine – drinking more than 4 cups of coffee a day can increase blood pressure.
Stop smoking - smoking causes your arteries to narrow so putting increased pressure on your heart.
What should you do if you discover you have high blood pressure?
If you’re using a home blood pressure monitor and you get high blood pressure readings on a regular basis, it’s important to contact your local pharmacy as soon as you can. Your pharmacy can verify the reading and help you to make lifestyle changes to help reduce your blood pressure naturally.
Whatever your age, it’s important to know your blood pressure and take steps to keep it under control. That’s why we’ll be running an online 10% discount on blood pressure monitors during September. Visit our online store by clicking here or pop into your local branch to find out more.