Why is high blood pressure a concern?
When your heart beats, it pumps blood around your body to give it the energy and oxygen it needs. As the blood moves, it pushes against your blood vessel walls – the strength of this pushing is your blood pressure. High blood pressure is when it pushes with too much force, and this can carry serious health risks.
High blood pressure puts a strain on many parts of our system including blood vessels, heart, the brain, kidneys and eyes. It can put you at greater risk of developing life-threatening conditions such as:
- heart disease, hear attacks or heart failure
- peripheral arterial disease and aortic aneurysms
- kidney disease
- vascular dementia
High blood pressure affects about one in four adults in the UK, and as many as one in three in Lambeth, according to local data. However, it often doesn’t have noticeable symptoms, so the only way to find out is to have your blood pressure checked.
What can increase the risk of blood pressure?
Although it is not always clear what causes high blood pressure, some things are known to increase the risk, such as
- being overweight
- eating too much salt
- not doing enough exercise
- drinking too much alcohol or drinks with caffeine
- being under a lot of stress
- having a relative with high blood pressure
- being of Black African or Black Caribbean descent
How do I know if I have high blood pressure?
Blood pressure is recorded with 2 numbers indicating the pressure of your blood in your body. The higher number (systolic pressure) is the force at which your heart pumps blood around your body. The lower number (diastolic pressure) is the resistance to the blood flow in the blood vessels between heartbeats. They’re both measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg).
Ideally, we should all have a blood pressure reading between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg. The target for over-80s is below 150/90mmHg.
High blood pressure is considered to be from 140/90mmHg (or an average of 135/85mmHg at home) – or 150/90mmHg (or an average of 145/85mmHg at home) if you’re over the age of 80.
Regular blood pressure checks are important in keeping hypertension under control.
How can I get my blood pressure checked?
Adults over the age of 40 should get their blood pressure checked regularly. You can get your blood pressure checked at a number of places including:
- your GP surgery
- selected community pharmacies
- as part of your NHS Health Check. Invitations are sent to people aged 40 to 74. The NHS Health Check can help spot early signs of high blood pressure, kidney disease, heart disease, type 2 diabetes or dementia)
- on the Health and Wellbeing Bus on specific days – please check the schedule
- in some workplaces – ask your employer.
You can also check your blood pressure yourself with a home blood pressure monitor. Find out how to monitor your blood pressure at home from Blood Pressure UK
How can I keep my blood pressure under control?
You can start taking steps today to lower your blood pressure and keep it in check. Read about the changes you can make to your diet and lifestyle, and the medications that are available if you need them.
Further information on high blood pressure
The following websites have useful information and tips to help you prevent high blood pressure:
- Getting help with your health – information from Lambeth Council
- NHS hypertension prevention guide
- NHS ‘living well’ guide
- Thriving Lambeth website – information on community activity and events
- Accessing services in Lambeth – information from Age UK Lambeth
- Blood Pressure UK
- British Heart Foundation
More about the NWDA
To find out more about the NWDA and how you could work with us, visit our get involved with the NWDA page.