High blood pressure
High blood pressure or hypertension is a common medical condition,
usually resulting in treatment with medication.
About 18 per cent of men and just over 18 per cent of women
have hypertension. When you get older, the blood pressure
levels rise. In general there are no signs or symptoms of
high blood pressure, so it is important to get your blood
pressure checked regularly. High blood pressure is a risk
factor for heart disease and stroke. Other major risk factors
are cigarette smoking, high blood cholesterol and lack of
A blood pressure (Bp) reading is given in two numbers. The
first number is the systolic pressure, which gives you information
about the state of the arteries as the heart is contracting
or pumping the blood around the body. The second number is
the diastolic pressure, which represents the pressure when
the heart is being filled with blood before the next contraction.
For example blood pressure is 140/80.
For most people, blood pressure:
- less then 140/85 is desirable
- between 140/85 and 160/90 is borderline high blood pressure
- at 160/90 and above is high.
High blood pressure is usually affected by a combination
of things including:
- lack of exercise
- a family history of high blood pressure
- high alcohol intake
- high salt consumption
To control your blood pressure:
- stop smoking
- keep to a healthy weight or lose weight
- limit the alcohol intake
- do some exercise
For every kilogram of body fat you lose, you can reduce you
blood pressure by two points.
Regular physical activity has been shown to lower blood pressure
by about 5-10 points.
If you are planning to do vigorous exercise, consult your
GP if you:
- have a known heart condition
- are a man aged over 35 and a woman over 45, who has
not been active recently.
Too much stress, emotionally and physically, can raise your
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