What is blood pressure?
As the blood circulates around the body, it is under pressure. The blood pressure is a result of the
pumping action of the heart and the resistance of the vessels, through which the blood flows.
When blood pressure is high it puts an unnecessary strain on the heart and blood vessels.
Blood pressure may rise temporarily due to exercise, excitement, anger or anxiety making your heart
What is normal blood pressure?
Your blood pressure levels will vary during the day and will normally be highest around lunchtime or
after exercise and lowest when you are resting or sleeping. Blood pressure is quoted as 2 numbers,
the first number known as systolic pressure, is the blood pressure during each heartbeat. The
second, known as diastolic, is the blood pressure between beats.
A guideline from the British Hypertension Sociey defines blood pressure of 130/85 or
below as normal but say that 120/80 is the optimal. 140/90 is the level used to diagnose high blood
pressure. If your blood pressure reading is consistently 140/90 or above this is considered high blood
pressure and treatment may be required. The high blood pressure reading can be either a systolic
reading of 140 or above, a diastolic reading of 90 or above, or both.
What causes blood pressure to be high?
Anyone can develop high blood pressure and it doesn’t always have an obvious cause. If you have
persistent high blood pressure, the condition is called hypertension.
High blood pressure tends to run in families. Blood pressure will also increase, as you get older. This
may be why heart attacks are more common in older people. In a few cases high blood pressure can
be related to another medical condition.
There are many other elements that contribute to high blood pressure that can be avoided, such as
being overweight, drinking too much alcohol, smoking, lack of exercise and a poor diet.
What are the dangers of having high blood pressure?
High blood pressure in itself is not a disease, but it can cause serious health problems such as, heart
disease and strokes. You are also more likely to suffer from kidney damage or failure.
How can I reduce the risk of high blood pressure?
A healthy lifestyle can help prevent high blood pressure. For a healthy lifestyle you should cut down
on salt intake and watch your weight, find a weight that is right for you and try to stick to it. You
should also give up smoking, eat a balanced healthy diet and get regular exercise.
If these measures are not successful in lowering blood pressure, then there is a wide range of drugs
available to treat high blood pressure. Your doctor will help you decide what treatment is right for
you. Some women experience high blood pressure because of the contraceptive pill, your doctor will
monitor your blood pressure if you are on the pill. High blood pressure can also occur during
pregnancy and usually returns to normal after the birth, always consult your doctor if you are worried.