The ‘silent killer’

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

This week is Know your Numbers! Week, a campaign set up by Blood Pressure UK to encourage awareness of high blood pressure. High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is commonly referred to as the ‘silent killer’ because it often has no symptoms and if unnoticed and dealt with, it can lead to a heart attack or stroke. This is why Blood Pressure UK provides free checks across the UK at Pressure Stations located in GPs, pharmacies, shopping centres, hospitals and leisure centres.

So what is blood pressure?

Blood pressure is the strength at which your blood pushes on the side of arteries as it’s pumped around the body. Measured using two numbers – the systolic and diastolic pressure; this determines whether a patient has high, normal or low blood pressure. As a general guide:

  • high blood pressure is considered to be 140/90mmHg or higher
  • ideal blood pressure is considered to be between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg
  • low blood pressure is considered to be 90/60mmHg or lower

Causes of high blood pressure

It’s not always black and white as to what causes high blood pressure, however there are certain factors that can increase your risk. These include:

  • being over the age of 65
  • being overweight or obese
  • being of African or Caribbean descent
  • having a relative with high blood pressure
  • eating too much salt and not eating enough fruit and vegetables
  • not doing enough exercise
  • drinking too much alcohol or coffee (or other caffeine-based drinks)
  • smoking
  • not getting enough sleep or having disturbed sleep

Small changes to lead a healthy lifestyle can have a big impact on your risk of high blood pressure and can help to lower your blood pressure if it’s already high.

Be sure to check your blood pressure regularly to prevent any complications in the future and treat high blood pressure, if you do have it. Visit your local GP or find your nearest Pressure Station this week for a free check.