What is blood pressure / bp?
Blood pressure is measured by two numbers, which are both measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg):
- Systolic pressure (the higher number) shows the force used by the heart to pump the blood around the body.
- Diastolic pressure (the lower number) shows how much resistance there is to the blood flow from the blood vessels.
What is high blood pressure / bp?
Ideally, your blood pressure would measure between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg. High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is when the measurements are 140/90mmHg or higher.
What are some examples of high blood pressure symptoms?
High blood pressure doesn’t have any noticeable symptoms on its own but it puts extra strain on the heart, blood vessels and organs.
High blood pressure can lead to more serious conditions if it’s left untreated, including heart attacks, heart disease, stroke, heart failure and kidney disease.
The only way to know if you have high blood pressure is to have your blood pressure checked.
What causes high blood pressure?
It isn’t always clear exactly what has caused high blood pressure in a person. There are some factors that are known to increase your risk of having it, such as if you:
- Are over 65
- Have a relative with high blood pressure
- Are of Caribbean or African descent
- Are obese
- Drink too much alcohol or caffeine
- Eat a diet high in salt and low in fruit and vegetables
- Don’t exercise
- Don’t get enough sleep
How can you treat high blood pressure?
Making certain lifestyle changes such as exercising and eating a healthier diet can make a difference and either help prevent high blood pressure or help to lower it if it is already high.
Your doctor may also prescribe one or more high blood pressure tablets. High blood pressure medication includes:
- ACE inhibitors including ramipril and lisinopril
- Angiotensin-2 receptor blockers (ARBs) including candesartan and irbesartan
- Calcium channel blockers including amlodipine and felodipine
- Diuretics including bendroflumethiazide and indapamide
- Beta-blockers including atenolol and bisoprolol
- Alpha-blockers including doxazosin
- Renin inhibitors including aliskiren
What can you do to help prevent high bp / blood pressure?
One of the simplest ways to help prevent high blood pressure is to make some lifestyle changes. Reduce the amount of salt, caffeine and alcohol you consume, and eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables. Try to exercise regularly and make sure you get enough sleep.
You should also get regular blood pressure checks, which can be done by your GP and some pharmacies. You can also check your own blood pressure at home with a blood pressure monitor.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is hypertension?
Hypertension is the medical term for high blood pressure.
What are the signs of high blood pressure?
There aren’t any noticeable signs of high blood pressure. The only way to know for sure is to have your blood pressure checked.
What is classed as high blood pressure?
High blood pressure is considered to be 140/90mmHg or higher.
What can cause high blood pressure?
There are a number of factors that can put you at risk of high blood pressure. These include an unhealthy diet, not exercising and being overweight. See more above.