It’s estimated that around 16,500 people in Telford and Wrekin have high blood pressure and don’t know it.
It’s serious because high blood pressure can cause heart and circulatory diseases including heart attacks or stroke. But there are simple things you can do to bring high blood pressure down.
We all need to act on our blood pressure, even if we feel fine.
Heart and circulatory diseases kill 1 in 4 people in the UK, and high blood pressure is one of the most common causes for it.
Many people don’t know they have high blood pressure until they find themselves in hospital with a heart attack or stroke.
What is blood pressure?
Your Heart pumps blood around your body to deliver oxygen and nutrients to your organs. Your blood pressure is the force your heart uses to pump blood around your body through the arteries
You need some pressure to keep your blood moving. Your blood pressure naturally goes up and down, and while it’s fine for it to go up while you’re moving about. It’s when your blood pressure is always high, even when resting, that you need to do something about it.
How is my blood pressure measured?
When you have your blood pressure measured, your reading is written as two numbers. The first is when the pressure is at its highest and the second at its lowest. For example your reading should be something like: 140/90. You’ll be told something like ‘140 over 90’.
What happens if you have high blood pressure?
Hypertension is the medical term for high blood pressure. It means your blood pressure is too high.
High blood pressure is serious. If you ignore it, it can lead to heart and circulatory diseases like a heart attack or stroke. It can also cause kidney failure, heart failure, and problems with your sight.
High blood pressure means that your heart has to work harder to pump blood around your body, so the pressure is always high than it should be.
Your arteries are stretchy to cope with your blood pressure going up or down. If you have high blood pressure, your arteries lose their stretchiness and become stiff or narrow.
The narrowing makes it easier for fatty material to clog them up. If the arteries that carry blood to your heart get damaged and clogged, it can lead to a heart attack. If this happens in the arteries that carry blood to your brain it can lead to a stroke.
Symptoms of high blood pressure
High blood pressure doesn’t really have any symptoms. Many people have high blood pressure – and are putting themselves at greater risk of becoming ill – without even knowing it. People only find out that they have high blood pressure after having a stroke or heart attack.
The only way to know whether you have high blood pressure is to have it checked.
How you can check your blood pressure in Telford and Wrekin
In Telford and Wrekin we have two blood pressure advisors touring the borough testing people in the community all year round. In September our advisors, Marian and Jaz, went to Southwater Comic Con to check people’s blood pressure. If you see them in their red British Heart Foundation shirts make sure you say hello and get checked. It only takes a few moments and they are very friendly.
How do you get High blood pressure?
Most people get high blood pressure because of their diet, lifestyle or because they have a medical condition.
Sometimes high blood pressure runs in families and can also worsen with age. It is also more common if you are of black African or black Caribbean descent.
Even in these cases, you can still improve your blood pressure by changing you diet and being active.
The following can all increase your risk of getting high blood pressure:
- Drinking too much alcohol
- Being overweight
- Not doing enough exercise
- Eating too much salty food
Getting your blood pressure down
Anyone can reduce their chances of getting high blood pressure. Here are some ways to keep your blood pressure under control:
- Eat less salt and eat more fruit and vegetables.
- Reduce how much alcohol you drink.
- Being more active
- Losing weight
Build healthy habits
Building health habits into your routine can make all the difference. For example try these swaps to start living healthier.
- Take crisps, chocolate or sweets out or your bag and swap them for fruit, unsalted nuts or popcorn
- Remove salt on your food and swap them for pepper, herbs and spices.
- Instead of a pint of beer swap it for half a pint of beer.
- Don’t take the lift swap it for the stairs.
- Rather than a leisurely stroll swap it for a brisk walk.
Food labels and salt
Even if you don’t add salt to your food, you may be eating too much of it. Around three quarters of the salt we eat has already been added to our food before we buy it. Checking food labels on the foods you buy can help to you choose lower salt alternatives. Make sure you mostly eat thing that are labelled green or amber for salt.
Salt is salt. Whether it comes in crystals or grains, for the sea or Himalayas – all salt and you need to limit it. The same goes for garlic or celery salts too.
Fruit and Veg
Eating more fruit and vegetables can help to lower your blood pressure. Aim for at least five portions a day.
British Heart Foundation
© British Heart Foundation, 2019. Reproduced with kind permission of the British Heart Foundation.