What is blood pressure?
High blood pressure (or hypertension) usually has no symptoms. If it’s not treated or kept under control, it is one of the major risk factors for heart disease and stroke. Treatment and detection is very possible but it starts with you.
Blood pressure is measured by two numbers
The first number records blood pressure when the pressure is at its highest i.e. when the heart muscle squeezes out the blood – this is called systolic pressure.
The second number is when the heart relaxes and allows the blood to flow back into the heart – this is called diastolic pressure.
What’s the normal level?
The normal level of blood pressure is usually about 120 (systolic) over 80 (diastolic). If your blood pressure is 140 over 90 or higher (or 140 over 80 if you have diabetes) you should discuss this reading with your doctor.
Why is blood pressure important?
The higher your blood pressure, the greater your risk of heart attack or stroke, heart failure, kidney failure and poor circulation in your legs. These problems can be avoided if your blood pressure is controlled.
Over half of all adults in Ireland over 45 years of age have high blood pressure. About 4 in every 5 men and 2 in every 3 women with high blood pressure are not being treated. Keep reading and we’ll help change that.
If you are diagnosed with high blood pressure, it means your blood pressure is consistently higher than it should be. Thankfully, there are several ways to help reduce it which we will talk you through below.
Are there any signs or causes?
There is often no single cause of high blood pressure. A number of factors can combine to raise blood pressure, and high blood pressure tends to run in families.
Someone with high blood pressure may look and feel well, and rarely has any symptoms. The only way to find out if you have high blood pressure is to have it measured.
As we grow older, our blood pressure also increases. Also, being overweight, drinking too much alcohol, eating too much sodium which is found in salt and not eating enough fresh fruit and vegetables may lead to an increase in blood pressure.
However, contrary to popular opinion, high blood pressure is not a disease of the nervous or highly strung person – nor is it caused by a stressful lifestyle.
In a very small number of people, there is a specific underlying cause for high blood pressure such as kidney problems, adrenal gland tumours and thyroid problems. Treating these conditions may result in your blood pressure returning to normal.