We need a certain amount of pressure to push our blood around our bodies. This is known as blood pressure.
‘Blood pressure is a measure of the force that your heart uses to pump blood around your body.’ NHS
Blood pressure is measured in mm Hg (millimetres of mercury) and consists of two numbers. The first number is called ‘systolic’ pressure which is the pressure at which your heart pushes blood out. The second number is called ‘diastolic’ pressure which is the pressure at which your heart rests between beats. Your blood pressure should be below 140/90 unless your doctor says otherwise.
It is important to get your blood pressure checked regularly if you experience high blood pressure as it does not show symptoms and can lead to serious health implications such as kidney damage, stroke or a heart attack.
High blood pressure if left undiagnosed can lead to kidney damage, heart attack or stroke. Below we have highlighted ways to reduce blood pressure below. If you think you may be at risk book an appointment with your GP to get checked.
Are you sitting around too much? We all know that we should be moving more and exercising, however many are reluctant to action this. Regular exercise makes our hearts stronger and therefore more efficient at pumping blood around our body. Sedentary behaviour is increasingly common with many of us with desk jobs, travelling by public transport where you spend your time sitting down and our leisure time spent watching TV and playing on computers. 150 minutes a week of exercise are recommended which can be split into 10 minutes sessions if you feel overwhelmed to begin with. Walking to running and even taking the stairs at work all contribute to your weekly exercise. If you struggle with motivation to exercise you can encourage your family and friends to get involved and all motivate each other.
Public Health is aiming to reduce the amount of salt content across the food industry. High salt intake has been linked to high blood pressure due to sodium levels. Adults should eat no more than 6 g of salt a day, with children consuming no more than 2-5 g depending on their age. Many develop a taste for salt which therefore affects your expectations of how food should taste. It can be very difficult for people to cut out salt as food can then taste bland and less appealing. An example of a tip that will help reduce your salt intake which will in effect protect your heart would be to check the foods that you are buying do not contain high amounts of salt and are labelled low in salt or sodium. Remove the table salt as an option to add at mealtimes. Chances are the food does not need seasoning it is more out of habit to add. If you already have high blood pressure it’s worth reducing your sodium intake and try seasoning with herbs and spices instead of salt.
Did you know that 3 pints of beer (5%) are considered a binge drinking session for men? For women, 2 large glasses of wine are considered a binge drinking session? The main problem with alcohol is that many are not aware of how much is ‘too much. Alcohol is linked to having serious long term effects on blood pressure and has proven to increase the risk of hypertension in both men and women. People should not exceed more than 14 units a week which is equivalent to 6 pints of 4% beer or 6 glasses (175 ml) of wine. To avoid minimal damage from drinking you should not drink more than this and spread it out over the week. For more information on Alcohol guidelines click here.
A balanced and healthy diet can reduce your high blood pressure and risk of coronary heart diseases. Certain foods are recommended to help reduce your blood pressure such as potassium which is a very important mineral that helps get rid of sodium from the body. It can be found in lots of fresh fruit and vegetables e.g. tomatoes, bananas, avocados and oranges. It can also be found in dairy products such as milk and yoghurt and fish such as tuna and salmon. Ensure that you are getting a variety of nutrients from a balanced diet of fruit and vegetables, starchy foods, dairy, protein and small amounts of fats and sugars. For more information on healthy balanced diets and portion control click here.
Reducing your stress will help improve your blood pressure and general health. Stress causes our body to enter fight or flight mode which causes our heart rate to increase and beats faster. There are many ways in which we can reduce stress the first would be to slow down and take a deep breath. This will allow you to relax and take a minute to evaluate the situation. Ensuring that you are getting a good night’s sleep and enough of it as well as exercising can also help you see a situation clearer and deal with it differently.