What is Blood Pressure and why is it important?
Blood pressure is the pressure of the blood pushing against the walls of the arteries measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg). It is recorded as 2 numbers eg 120/80; the top number, the systolic pressure, occurs as the heart contracts, the bottom, the diastolic pressure occurs as the heart relaxes between beats. Blood pressure varies constantly adjusting to the demands of your body. Consistently raised blood pressure, called hypertension, is dangerous as it increases the risk of heart disease, strokes and kidney disease.
What causes raised blood pressure?
We often do not find a cause for raised blood pressure but there may be genetic factors and is also associated with increased weight, lack of exercize, smoking, salt and alcohol consumption.
What are the symptoms of raised blood pressure?
It is unusual to have symptoms from raised blood pressure which is why it is important to have it checked regularly.
What is "White coat Hypertension/Blood Pressure"?
A lot of people's blood pressure goes up when they have their blood pressure measured in a medical setting. This is because they are worried, either consciously or subconsciously, about the result and what the implications will be. Doctors are aware of this and, if they feel it is a possibility, they will suggest either purchasing a blood pressure machine to record some readings at home or arranging a 24 hour blood pressure monitor.
What can I do to lower my blood pressure apart from taking medication?
Lifestyle choices are important in the management of raised blood pressure - stopping smoking, reducing salt and alcohol consumption, increasing exercize and losing weight will all help. Often medication will still be needed but these lifestyle changes should still be continued.
Will I need to stay on medication for ever?
We cannot cure raised blood pressure but we can control it with medication. If you make big lifestyle changes then it is sometime possible to come off medication but it is more common that tablets are needed in the long term. There is also a tendency for blood pressure to gradually increase as the years go by so often higher doses or extra tablets are needed.