Hypertension

Why should I monitor my blood pressure?

Known as the “silent killer”, high blood pressure rarely has obvious symptoms.

Around 30% of people in England have high blood pressure but many don’t know it. If left untreated, high blood pressure increases your risk of a heart attack or stroke.

The only way of knowing there is a problem is to measure your blood pressure.

All adults should measure their blood pressure at least every five years. If you haven’t measured yours, you can get it checked at most Pharmacies or use the machine in the waiting room at The Surgery. Why not even get a blood pressure machine of your own to have at home?

See this website on how to choose the right blood pressure monitor.

See this website to show you how and when to measure your blood pressure.

What is high blood pressure?

Blood pressure measures how strongly blood presses against the walls of your arteries (large blood vessels) as it is pumped around your body by your heart. If this pressure is too high it puts a strain on your arteries and your heart, which makes it more likely that you will suffer a heart attack, a stroke or kidney disease.

Blood pressure is measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg) and it is recorded as two figures:

  • Systolic pressure: the pressure of the blood when your heart beats to pump blood out
  • Diastolic pressure: the pressure of the blood when your heart rests in between beats

For example, if your GP says your blood pressure is “140 over 90″, or 140/90mmHg, it means you have a systolic pressure of 140mmHg and a diastolic pressure of 90mmHg.

You are said to have high blood pressure (medically known as hypertension) if readings on separate occasions consistently show your blood pressure to be higher than 140/90mmHg.

Blood Pressure Monitoring

There are different ways to monitor your blood pressure to try and get an accurate reading, as your blood pressure can vary.

  • Daily home blood pressure monitoring.
    Here you measure your blood pressure twice a day for 7 days. Then we do a calculation to see what your average is. If you have a blood pressure machine at home and would like to check your blood pressure more accurately, print out our home blood pressure monitoring sheet, record your readings, hand it in to one of our Patient Navigators in person or by post or even send it to us on line and we will do the rest. We will let you know what your average home blood pressure reading is and any further management you may require.
  • 24hr blood pressure machine.
    Alternatively you may have a 24hr blood pressure machine fitted by the HCA. She will explain the procedure to you. This is mainly for patients who are unable to operate a home blood pressure machine like our elderly patients or those with severe arthritis of the hands.

Who is most at risk of High Blood Pressure?

Your chances of having high blood pressure increase as you get older. There is often no clear cause of high blood pressure but you are at increased risk if you:

  • Are overweight
  • Have a relative with high blood pressure
  • Are of African or Caribbean descent
  • Eat a lot of salt
  • Don’t eat enough fruit and vegetables
  • Don’t do enough exercise
  • Drink a lot of coffee (or other caffeine-based drinks)
  • Drink a lot of alcohol
  • Are aged over 65

How can I prevent getting High Blood Pressure?

You can take steps to prevent high blood pressure by:

  • Losing weight if you need to
  • Exercising regularly
  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Cutting back if you drink a lot of alcohol
  • Stopping smoking
  • Cutting down on salt and caffeine

Lifestyle Changes

Below are some changes you could make to your lifestyle to reduce high blood pressure. Some of these will lower your blood pressure in a matter of weeks, others may take longer.

  • Cut your salt intake to less than 6g (0.2oz) a day.
  • Eat a healthy, low-fat, balanced diet, including plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables.
  • Be active: being physically active is one of the most important things you can do to prevent or control high blood pressure.
  • Cut down on alcohol.
  • Stop smoking. Smoking greatly increases your chances of getting heart and lung diseases.
  • Lose weight.
  • Drink less coffee, tea or other caffeine-rich drinks such as cola. Drinking more than four cups of coffee a day may increase your blood pressure.
  • Try relaxation therapies, such as yoga, meditation and stress management. These treatments are not normally provided by the NHS.

The more healthy habits you adopt, the greater effect there is likely to be on lowering your blood pressure.

In fact, some people find that, by sticking to a healthy lifestyle, they do not need to take any medicines at all.