HIGH BLOOD pressure puts extra strain on your heart and blood vessels and this increases your risk of having a heart attack or stroke. High blood pressure affects around 1 in 3 people, however there are usually no symptoms and many people are unaware they have high blood pressure.
The only way to know if your blood pressure is high is to have it measured. This can be done by your GP or you can use a blood pressure monitor at home. This healthy heart tip explains what high blood pressure is and it provides tips for maintaining a healthy blood pressure.
What is high blood pressure?
When blood pressure is measured, two numbers are generated. An ideal blood pressure is 120/80 millimetres of mercury (mmHg). The first number is the systolic blood pressure (higher number), which is the force at which blood is being pumped around your body. Ideally, this will be below 120. A systolic blood pressure of 140 or more is regarded as high.
The second number is the diastolic blood pressure (lower number) which is the pressure when your heart is at rest, in between beats. Ideally this will be 80 or lower. A diastolic reading of 90 or above is regarded as high. The lower your blood pressure, the lower your risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
What can I do to maintain a healthy blood pressure?
- Reduce the amount of salt in your diet to no more than 6g a day (1 teaspoon). Look at the amount of salt on food labels and avoid choosing snacks that are high in salt.
- Maintain a healthy weight by eating a healthy diet and getting plenty of physical activity. You can check whether your body mass index (BMI) is within a healthy range using the online BMI healthy weight calculator from the NHS – https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-weight/bmi-calculator/
- Eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables every day
- Keep your alcohol consumption within the recommended limits of no more than 14 units a week, spread over three or more days
- Aim to do 150 minutes of moderate activity (e.g. brisk walking) or 75 minutes of vigorous activity (e.g. running) each week plus some strengthening activities (e.g. lifting weights) at least twice a week.
Lots more healthy tips, exercises and recipes can be found at heartresearch.org.uk.