Blood pressure is the force of the blood in your arteries. Everyone needs a certain pressure to keep the blood moving but high blood pressure develops if the walls of the bigger arteries become less elastic and rigid.
When this happens, you run a higher risk of having either a hypertension heart attack or a stroke. If left untreated for a long time, high blood pressure can lead to kidney failure and even damage your sight.
High blood pressure is also known as hypertension and in most cases, there is no definite cause. But the following can contribute to raised blood pressure:
Lack of physical activity
Having too much salt in your diet
Drinking too much alcohol
Not eating enough fruit and vegetables
Family history (the condition seems to run in families)
Being of African or Caribbean origin
You are also more likely to have higher blood pressure as you grow older
Have I got high Blood Pressure?
So what are high blood pressure symptoms? Although it can cause headaches, dizziness and problems with vision, most people have no obvious signs. This can be tricky because you might not know that there is a problem until you have your blood pressure checked. It is important to do this at least once a year because if high blood pressure is not treated and is combined with obesity, smoking and high blood cholesterol levels or diabetes, the risk of a hypertension heart attack or a stroke is much greater.
What doctors consider ‘normal’ depends on several factors. Generally, ‘normal’ is considered to be below 140/90 mm Hg. But a single high blood pressure reading is not necessarily cause for concern as this can happen to anyone if they are anxious about something. So it’s a good idea to have your blood pressure tested a few times to see if there is a pattern and whether you need treatment.
There is no actual cure for high blood pressure but the advice is always to adopt a healthy lifestyle and for many, this can bring down pressure to a normal level. Medication is used if this does not have much effect or if the patient has other risk factors such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes or damage to other organs.
What about low Blood Pressure
Low blood pressure can also be a problem for some people although here too, symptoms are rare and you usually only find out during a routine blood pressure test. Sometimes dizziness when standing up can be a sign of low blood pressure. It can help to drink more fluids, add more salt to your diet (but not too much) or even wear well-fitting support stockings. Otherwise, there is usually no need to treat low blood pressure.
For those with even mild hypertension, reducing your blood pressure can lower your risk of developing a range of other health problems and so help you live longer. But remember, there are usually no high blood pressure symptoms so it is up to you to have yourself checked.
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