Blood Pressure - The Facts

21/09/2016 10:36

Oh, how nice it was to have a couple of weeks away over the summer. After a few days of worrying if the world will still turn without your valuable input at work, the stresses melted away, the head cleared and you started to appreciate the simple pleasures in life again.

(image courtesy of Shutterstock - approved for publication)

And now you're back. Whether you enjoy your work or not, the mere sound of the alarm clock reminding you that you are no longer free to do whatever you want when you want, is enough to send your blood pressure up to pre-holiday levels as the adrenalin kicks back in again.

But is the pressure productive? Or could it be doing us some serious harm?
A healthy blood pressure has two measurements. The top measurement, or systolic, should be less than 120. This is the pressure in your circulation when your heart pumps. The lower measurement or diastolic pressure, should be less than 70 and represents the pressure in the system as your heart rests between beats.

Problem is, around 1:4 adults have a high blood pressure (known as hypertension) - but may not know about it. And as high blood pressure increases your risk of stroke, heart attack and even premature death, that's not a good thing to be in the dark about. Especially when we can remedy it.

So, hot-foot it along to your GP's, health-centre or local chemist to get a pressure check now, because if your blood pressure is 140/90 or over, you may well need treatment. Or invest in a home monitor - as sometimes the mere visit to the doctor can falsely put up your blood-pressure. We call it white-coat hypertension. A home monitor gives you a range of readings at different times and in different situations, which will give a better overall picture. It also helps you see the results of your pressure-lowering efforts, keeping you motivated, so may well be a good investment.

What's more, a one-off blood pressure reading by your doctor may not show the intermittent episodes of high blood pressure that can be an early warning of you developing full-blown hypertension in the future.

And what is the best way to help a high blood pressure?
Most importantly, get to and keep to a healthy weight.

The best way to do this is to move more, as activity helps your blood pressure independently too. And cut out processed foods which are often high in salt - another enemy of a healthy blood pressure. Of course, it's also really important to stop smoking and reduce alcohol as much as possible.

And try to capture and keep some of that summer feeling - because getting back into the stress and strain of work doesn't help your blood pressure one bit. The odd 5 minute break in the day to close your eyes, take a few deep breaths and imagine yourself back on the beach, or out on a bracing walk with not a care in the world, can take the pressure off in more ways than one.

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UK Health