High blood pressure (hypertension) means that the long-term force of the blood against your artery walls is high enough that it may eventually cause health problems, such as heart disease including heart attack and stroke. If you suffer from this condition your blood pressure is continually higher than the recommended level. It rarely has noticea- ble symptoms. It is often referred to as ‘the silent killer’.
How to measure your blood pressure:
Blood pressure testing is available in a variety of settings:
•At your GP surgery by a GP, practice nurse, healthcare assistant or self-service machine
•At home – you can check blood pressure your- self with a home testing kit
Healthy adults aged over 40 should have their blood pressure checked at least once every five years.
Who is at risk?
Your chances of having high blood pressure increase as you get older. There is often no clear cause of high blood pressure but you are at increased risk if you:
- are overweight
- have a relative with high blood pressure
- eat too much salt
- don’t eat enough fruit and vegetables
- don’t do enough exercise
- drink too much coffee (or other caffeine-based drinks)
- drink too much alcohol
Improve your blood pressure
High blood pressure in midlife increases the risk of cognitive decline in old age. Use lifestyle modification to keep your pressure as low as possible. Stay lean, exercise regularly, limit your alcohol, reduce stress, and eat right.
Many people with high blood pressure may have headaches, shortness of breath or nosebleeds, but these signs and symptoms aren’t specific and usually don’t occur until high blood pressure has reached a severe or life-threatening stage.