High blood pressure rarely has any symptoms so the only way to know if you have the condition is to have your blood pressure regularly measured. 31 percent of men and 28 percent of women have high blood pressure, which is the main risk factor for stroke and a major risk factor for heart attack, heart failure and kidney disease.
The worrying thing about high blood pressure is that around a third of people with high blood pressure do not even know that they have it, as there are no obvious symptoms. This is why it is often called the ‘silent killer’.
Ideally, we should have blood pressure at or below 120 over 80 (120/80) because at this level, we have a much lower risk of heart disease or stroke in the future. If your blood pressure is ideal, this is great news however if your blood pressure is above this range, you will need to lower it.
What blood pressure readings mean?
Less than 120 over 80 (120/80) – Your blood pressure reading is ideal and healthy
Between 120 over 80 and 140 over 90 (120/80-140/90) – You have a normal blood pressure reading but it is a little higher than it should be, and you should try to lower it by making healthy changes to your lifestyle.
140 over 90 (140/90) or higher (over a number of weeks) – You may have high blood pressure (hypertension) and if so, it is important that you make the choice to change your current lifestyle where possible.
High blood pressure can affect your body in a number of ways including:
Your heart: high blood pressure can cause you to have a heart attack and can also cause heart failure.
Your brain: high blood pressure is a leading cause of strokes and has been closely linked to forms of dementia.
Your kidneys: high blood pressure can cause kidney disease.
Your limbs: high blood pressure 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. In this situation, it is then even more important to lower your high blood pressure. There are many ways in which you can help yourself to reduce your blood pressure including the following five key suggestions:
Eat less salt, eat more fruit, keep to a healthy diet, drink less alcohol and become more active!