The medical term for high blood pressure is hypertension and is diagnosed by your GP. High blood pressure may cause stroke, heart attack, heart failure, kidney failure and heart disease. These issues can be avoided if your blood pressure is controlled.
The first step in managing your blood pressure is to know if it is high. When you know you have high blood pressure or are at risk of developing it, you can take steps to avoid the more serious health conditions associated with it. You can also improve your blood pressure by making simple lifestyle changes. If your GP diagnoses you with hypertension, you can control your blood pressure effectively with medication.
Blood pressure is the force it takes your heart to pump blood around your arteries. It can fluctuate during the day and can be affected by food, stress, exercise, temperature & smoking, among others.
When your blood pressure is measured, you get two readings:
- Systolic blood pressure: the level of pressure when it is at its highest, as the heart contracts to push blood out to the arteries.
- Diastolic blood pressure: the level of pressure when it is at its lowest, as the heart relaxes between beats to allow blood to flow back in.
The normal level of blood pressure is 120/80 – this means a systolic pressure of 120 and a diastolic pressure of 80. If your blood pressure is 140/90 or higher, you are at risk of hypertension and should visit your GP as soon as possible.