What Do You Need to Know About Your Blood Pressure?
Do you know your numbers when it comes to your blood pressure? Here's what you need to know and how to prevent high blood pressure the natural way.Did you know that over a quarter of people in the UK are affected by high blood pressure? Public Health statistics show that it’s the third biggest risk factor for premature death in England. With high blood pressure, you have a significantly increased chance of suffering from strokes, vascular dementia, arterial disease, heart failure and kidney disease. While most of us are aware that having the condition, otherwise known as hypertension, can lead to these serious health conditions, many of us are a bit hazy when it comes to the details.
So, let’s look at knowing your numbers and what preventative measures you can take to keep a healthy blood pressure.
Hypertension: Knowing your numbersSo, you’ve been to the doctor and your blood pressure is 110/70 - but what do those number actually mean?
The top number indicates the systolic pressure or the pressure in your arteries as the heart muscle contracts to push the blood out. The bottom number refers to the diastolic pressure, the pressure at the time your heart relaxes between beats. This combination of numbers indicates whether you have normal, high or low blood pressure.
As hypertension often has very few symptoms, it’s a good idea to get your blood pressure checked regularly by your doctor or district nurse. You can also buy blood pressure monitors to use at home if you want to keep a closer eye on your numbers. You health professional will tell you whether your reading fall within the safe range but you can also use the NHS blood pressure test feature on their website.
As a general rule, the categories are as follows:
- A measurement of 90/60 or below means your pressure is too low.
- A measurement between 90/60 and 120/80 means your pressure is normal
- A measurement of 140/90 and over means your pressure is too high and it’s time to take action
Preventing high blood pressureWhile there are effective medications to help control hypertension, it’s always better to try prevention rather than cure. Although some people may have medical conditions or familial reasons why they suffer with high blood pressure, most of us can stop it in its tracks with a few lifestyle changes. Simple tweaks to your daily habits can make a massive difference, such as:
- Exercising regularly – you don’t have to run a marathon, just get moving! Try not to sit for too long, do a fitness DVD, walk the dog; do whatever you enjoy as long as it means you’re moving your body.
- Eating more wholefoods – avoid processed foods if you can. Tuck into things like lean meats, grains, fruits and vegetables and cut down on your sugar, fat and salt intake where possible. It doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the odd naughty treat but excess weight, particularly around your middle, heightens your risk.
- Giving up smoking – smoking is a huge risk factor so try and kick the habit if you can. Your doctor can help you and there are plenty of patches, gums, inhalers and the like to give you a helping hand.
- Learning to relax – we all know how stress can send our blood pressure sky high. Try and get plenty of sleep, take time out for yourself and find activities that calm you down and help you unwind.
- Going easy on the alcohol – a glass or two here and there can actually do you some good, but regularly drinking excessive amounts or binge drinking can put a big strain on your health.