National Heart Month – High blood pressure
February is National Heart Month and here at Ashtons, we take hearts seriously! We will be looking at different heart-related topics throughout the month in order to build awareness about how best to look after your heart.
The heart is one of the most important organs in the body, so this month plays an important part in building awareness for all matters of the heart, especially seeing as there are about “2.6 million people in the UK living with Coronary Heart Disease (CHD)”.
This week, we will be looking at blood pressure. High blood pressure (hypertension) is not necessarily something you will notice by yourself, yet it puts a significant amount of pressure on your heart and blood vessels.
How is blood pressure calculated?
When looking at blood pressure, there are two numbers. There is the high number (systolic pressure) and the low number (diastolic pressure). Systolic pressure is the force your heart is pumping blood around the body, whereas the diastolic pressure is the resistance the blood being pumped around is facing.
The measurement of blood pressure is millimetres of mercury (mmHg) and the score you should be aiming for is around 120/80mmHg. You are thought to have high blood pressure is the reading is 140/90mmHg and low blood pressure when you score 90/60mmHg. It is very important to get your blood pressure checked at regular intervals, especially as you get older.
High blood pressure
Obviously the more extreme your blood pressure levels, the more damage that could be caused, leading to severe health problems down the line. Blood Pressure UK outlines the ways high blood pressure can affect your body:
- Your heart – high blood pressure can cause you to have a heart attack. It can also cause heart failure.
- Your brain – high blood pressure is a leading cause of strokes. It has also been closely linked to some forms of dementia.
- Your Kidneys – high blood pressure can cause kidney disease.
- Your limbs – high blood pressure can cause peripheral arterial disease, which can affect your legs.
There are a variety of risk factors of high blood pressure and a lot of them can normally be helped by changes to your lifestyle. You are more at risk of high blood pressure if:
- are over the age of 65
- are overweight or obese
- are of African or Caribbean descent
- have a relative with high blood pressure
- eat too much salt and don’t eat enough fruit and vegetables
- don’t do enough exercise
- drink too much alcohol or coffee (or other caffeine-based drinks)
- don’t get much sleep or have disturbed sleep
For more information on heart disease and how you can beat it, please visit the British Heart Foundation’s web page.
How can Ashtons help?
It is always good practice to get your blood pressure checked at regular intervals, especially if you have other underlying health conditions, such as diabetes or high cholesterol, as this can exacerbate health problems.
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