Blood Pressure: Why we all need the lowdown

heart-blood

Q: How do I know if I have high blood pressure? I am 45 and healthy, if a bit overweight. If it’s high, what happens next?

A: When your heart beats, it pumps blood round the body carrying nutrients and oxygen. As the blood moves, it pushes against the walls of the blood vessels. The strength of this pushing is your blood pressure (BP ). High BP puts extra strain on your arteries and heart, which is a major cause of heart attacks and the key cause of strokes. ‘But it’s easy to treat and treatment saves lives,’ according to Professor Gareth Beevers from Blood Pressure UK.

The only way to know if you have high BP is to have it measured because there are no symptoms until a late stage. Adults should have a BP check at least every five years. Go to your GP, or, during Know Your Numbers week, which starts tomorrow, Blood Pressure UK is offering screening in supermarkets, shops and public buildings nationwide; visit bloodpressureuk.org for locations. (Anyone with risk factors or existing hypertension should have more frequent checks.)

A BP reading consists of two numbers, eg, 120/80. The first number is systolic BP , which is the highest level your BP reaches when your heart beats. The second is diastolic BP, the lowest level it reaches as your heart relaxes between beats. Read More…