High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure or hypertension is often considered a concern of the elderly. This is due to its association with serious health issues such as heart attacks and strokes. More recently a new link has been discovered between high blood pressure and developing dementia in later life. One study found that older adults with hypertension were 60% more likely to develop dementia than those without.
It affects an estimated 17 million people in the UK. So keep reading for more insights into high blood pressure; what causes it and how to reduce it – whatever your age.
Who suffers from it?
Anyone. More than one in four adults in the UK have high blood pressure, although many won’t be aware of it.
What are the symptoms?
High blood pressure doesn’t always have noticeable symptoms. The only way to find out if your blood pressure is high is to have it checked.
What are the dangers?
If your blood pressure is too high, it puts extra strain on your blood vessels, heart and other organs, such as the brain, kidneys and eyes.
Left untreated high blood pressure can increase your risk of serious and potentially life-threatening conditions, such as:
- heart disease
- heart attacks and heart failure
- aortic aneurysms
- kidney disease
- vascular dementia
- peripheral arterial disease
The good news is that if you have high blood pressure, reducing it even a small amount can help lower your risk of these conditions.
How you can test for it?
The only way of confirming whether you have high blood pressure is to have a blood pressure test.
All adults over 40 are advised to have their blood pressure checked at least every five years.
Furthermore, getting this done is easy and could save your life.
How it works?
Blood pressure is recorded with two numbers. The systolic pressure is the force your heart pumps blood around your body. This is the higher number.
The diastolic pressure is the resistance to the blood flow in the blood vessels. This is the lower number.
Both numbers are measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg).
As a general guide:
- high blood pressureis 140/90mmHg or higher
- low blood pressure is 90/60mmHg or lower
- ideal blood pressure is between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg
In the risk zone:
Even a slightly raised blood pressure above 120/80 to 140/90mmHg could be an indicator that your blood pressure is not totally under control and a warning sign that you should start taking steps to get your blood pressure under control.
Where you can have your blood pressure tested:
- at some chemists
- as part of your NHS Health Check
- in some workplaces
- at home with a home blood pressure monitor.
You’re at an increased risk of high blood pressure if you:
- are over the age of 65
- are overweight or obese
- are of African or Caribbean descent (there is a genetic element for everyone)
- have a relative with high blood pressure
Lifestyle factors which can increase your risk of high blood pressure include:
- eating too much salt
- not eating enough fruit and vegetables
- not doing enough exercise
- drinking too much alcohol
- drinking too much coffee or other caffeine-based drinks
- getting too little sleep or very disturbed sleep
Most importantly, it is possible to reduce your chances of developing high blood pressure or lowering your blood pressure if it is already high by making healthy lifestyle changes.
Written by Emma Hammett for First Aid for Life
It is strongly advised that you attend a fully regulated Practical or Online First Aid course to understand what to do in a medical emergency. Please visit https://firstaidforlife.org.uk or call 0208 675 4036 for more information about our courses.
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First Aid for life provides this information for guidance and it is not in any way a substitute for medical advice. First Aid for Life is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made, or actions taken based on this information.