High blood pressure (hypertension) is usually asymptomatic, and so screening is vital. The only way to find out for sure if you do have hypertension is to have it measured. If you do have high blood pressure, your doctor will devise an appropriate treatment plan for you.
The treatment of high blood pressure involves both a change in lifestyle and, if necessary, the prescription of drugs, known as anti-hypertensives. In many cases of mild hypertension, a change in eating habits, regular exercise, a low fat diet, no smoking, and if necessary a reduction in salt intake and alcohol, will be sufficient to get the blood pressure down to normal.
You can measure your blood pressure in the privacy of your own home using one of the many reliable and accurate blood pressure monitors available today.
Some people are actually asked by their doctor or nurse to measure their blood pressure at home for a short period of time, to find out what it is like away from the surgery. Sometimes your blood pressure is higher when taken in a clinical or medical environment, such as your doctor’s surgery. This is commonly known as white coat hypertension and can be caused by feeling anxious while waiting to see the doctor, or by being in a clinical environment.
Blood pressure readings taken at home are often lower than those taken at the GP’s surgery, and readings taken at home are now seen to give a more accurate picture of your normal blood pressure.
What can cause high blood pressure?
There are a many factors that can contribute towards high blood pressure, and these are more often than not related to our lifestyle. Amongst the most common influences are obesity, over indulgence in alcohol, over indulgence in smoking, a lack of exercise and the stress of modern life. In addition to external factors high blood pressure can also be hereditary.
What are the long term risks of high blood pressure?
If high blood pressure is ignored, then it can lead to numerous health problems including heart attacks, circulatory problems and kidney failure. High blood pressure is also one of the most common causes of strokes.
How can I lower my blood pressure?
There are a variety of ways that you can try and lower your blood pressure and these include:
- Eating a well balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables, potatoes and rice.
- Try and avoid animal fats;
- Use less salt;
- Moderate your consumption of alcohol;
- Exercise more
- If you smoke, stop.
Advice regarding Blood Pressure
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, has become an increasing concern within today’s society, affecting around 20% of people around the world. One of the main problems relating to high blood pressure is the fact that there are no obvious symptoms to indicate that your blood pressure has become too high. If high blood pressure is left untreated over a period of time, then it can result in a variety of consequences including circulatory disorders, arteriosclerosis, kidney failure, strokes and heart attacks. It is because of the absence of any real symptoms that hypertension is sometimes referred to as “the silent killer”.
In today’s hectic lifestyle there are many contributory factors that can lead to high blood pressure, including your diet, obesity, stress, smoking and diabetes. It is important to note however that high blood pressure can also be caused as a result of a hereditary condition.
It is therefore important to check your blood pressure if your lifestyle puts you at risk, or indeed if there is a history of high blood pressure within your family. That said, even if you do not fall directly into any of these categories, it is advised to check your blood pressure as a preventative measure, assuring that everything is ok.
What happens if I have hypertension?
There is no fast rule because everybody is different but if hypertension is detected and treated before it causes other complications then the chances of recovery are good. If you require medication then you must follow your doctor’s instructions carefully. If no medication is required, there are still many things that you can do to lower your blood pressure and these in turn will help you feel better overall.
A sensible approach to your diet can help to reduce your blood pressure. You should look to try and have a well balanced, low in calories diet which contains plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, potatoes and rich. You should avoid animal fats and salt where you can, and remember salt is often hidden in sliced meats, cheeses and ready to serve meals, so wherever possible you should try to avoid them.
There is nothing wrong with a glass of wine or beer, but like with most things if you consume alcohol in excess then this is harmful to your blood pressure. If you smoke, you should stop – there are many support organizations and helplines that can help you. Taking 500mg of vitamin C a day has been shown to lower blood pressure – and fish oils and garlic are helpful in keeping your heart healthy.
In addition to a healthy diet regular exercise can also contribute to lowering your blood pressure, as well as helping you to combat excessive fat, reduce stress and help you become more energetic.
Everything should be done in moderation, and also regularly. It is much better to plan regular, moderate training schedule rather than a burst of over strenuous activity followed by a period of none. Whether you plan brisk walks, jogging, cycling or swimming they are all sufficient activities to put a medium load on the heart, over a period of just 15-30 minutes of activity.
Strenuous sports should be avoided and if you are in any doubt as to what activities you should be partaking in then you should seek medical advice.
With the stresses and strains of everyday life it is important to consciously make time to relax. Relaxation has a direct effect on the autonomic nervous system, and one of the jobs of this nervous system is to contract and dilate the blood vessels, thus having a direct effect on blood pressure.
Relaxation can take on many forms and the main aim is to try and slow your pulse rate and thus reduce the strain on the heart. You will know what activities you enjoy and assist you to relax but techniques such as yoga, breathing exercises and self hypnosis can all help.
How do I measure blood pressure?
In order to acquire a true measurement of your blood pressure you should take more than one measurement in order to obtain an accurate diagnosis. There are a host of factors that can influence the measurement and these include the time of day, exercising, eating etc.
You can have your blood pressure measured by your doctor, or you can do it yourself at home.
Are all blood pressure monitors the same?
No, it is essential that the blood pressure monitor that you use has been clinically approved. Many of the blood pressure monitors that the First Aid Warehouse supply are clinically validated. This means that the procedures used for the evaluation of the accuracy of the blood pressure monitor have been approved by independent bodies such as the British Hypertension Society and the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation.
Is it quick, easy and pain free?
One of the quickest and easiest ways to monitor your own blood pressure is to use a blood pressure monitor that uses the Oscillometric method of measurement. In monitors that use this method microprocessors record pressure fluctuations caused by pulse waves as the pressure is released from the cuff and the resulting systolic and diastolic values are shown within a matter of seconds. You should not experience any pain when measuring your own blood pressure.
How do I measure my own blood pressure?
The process of measuring your own blood pressure is simple and there are just a few basic rules that need to be followed:
- Try and keep the conditions the same when taking your measurement, including the time of day, and any medication that you may have taken.
- Take your measurement in a relaxed state, preferably in a sitting position.
- Allow half an hour to have passed since your last cup of tea, exercise or since you were in a stressful situation.
- If in doubt seek medical advice as to when the optimum time for measuring your blood pressure should be – this should take into account your daily routine.
When taking your blood pressure it is almost always taken by placing the cuff around your arm (usually the left) and positioning it on a level with your heart. Follow the instructions that are specifically related to your blood pressure monitor and then make a note of the measurement.