High Blood Pressure, the silent killer.

Have you got high blood pressure?

I’m prompted to write this post after talking to a friend of mine who sadly lost their father during the summer. Their father, an otherwise active, healthy man suddenly became ill in front of them and passed away in moments.

The cause of his death, attributed to complications arising from high blood pressure.

Sadly, this isn’t uncommon. I’ve known a number of people, a combination of friends, relatives and former colleagues who have suffered either an unexpected heart attack or stroke – attributed to high blood pressure.

What all of these had in common is that the sufferers were all active, healthy males. None smoked, all took regular exercise and none you’d imagine as being what you’d imagine a high blood pressure sufferer to be like.

It’s estimated that one in three adults in the UK sufferers from high blood pressure. That’s a whopping great 16 million people – 31% of men and 28% of women.

What’s more worrying is that 18% of adult men and 13% of women are not receiving treatment for their high blood pressure.

I was one of the 18% until driven by ever worsening headaches, I finally relented and went to see my GP who told me my blood pressure readings were the highest he’d ever recorded in his 30 plus years of practicing medicine.

I was shocked. How could I, someone who regularly cycles, walks and enjoys an outdoor active lifestyle and eats well be suffering from hypertension?

The simple answer is no one knows, hence the high levels of un-diagnosed suffers.

Given that if left untreated,  high blood pressure, or hypertension to give it the correct name is potentially fatal. High blood pressure can also lead to a variety of medical conditions including heart attack, stroke, kidney disease and or dementia.

Thankfully, today I have my blood pressure under control thanks to a number of visits to hospital to see specialists, a combination of medication, a change in diet and a greater awareness of how easy it is for high blood pressure to mask itself as normal.

What are the symptoms of high blood pressure?

In my case, I suffered every increasing headaches, however there aren’t really any reliable symptoms to indicate whether you have high blood pressure, which is why it’s called the silent killer.

Only reliable way of knowing whether you have high blood pressure is to get it checked by a professional at your GP Surgery.

Dear reader, I urge you to get your blood pressure checked, particularly if you’re male and one who doesn’t normally see a doctor. Don’t let this entirely preventable condition rob you, your family and loved ones from a healthy, happy life.

Get your blood pressure checked out at your local GP.

Initially, I think it’s wise to get your blood pressure taken by a medical professional as this way you know it’s been taken properly and you can act upon any advice they give you. Your practice nurse or GP will also show you how to take your own readings. Most GP surgeries in the UK have a Blood pressure reading device in the surgery waiting area.

Once you’ve taken, or had your blood pressure taken, you’ll be able to see whether or not your readings are within ‘normal limits’.

What are normal blood pressure readings?

In the United Kingdom, the NHS advise that A blood pressure reading below 120/80mmHg is considered to be ideal.

So ideally, you’re looking around 120/88mmHG.

Your GP or nurse would usually describe this reading as ‘120 over 88’.

The 120 refers to top number on the monitor – Systolic pressure.

The 88 bottom number on the monitor refers to the – Diastolic pressure.

However, the 120/88 should be viewed only as a guideline.

For example, my doctors have told me that I should be achieving a 130/85. I’m a 50-year old male, otherwise fit, diagnosed with ‘active hypertension.’ So you’ll need to visit your GP, get your blood pressure readings taken and undergo tests before you really know what readings are most suitable for you. But in most cases, the 120/88 is the standard target reading.

What do these numbers mean?

The numbers refer to two the pressure readings that make up your overall blood pressure reading. Top line refers to your Systolic pressure reading, bottom line refers to Diastolic pressure.

Systolic pressure – is the pressure of the blood when your heart beats to pump the blood out.

Diastolic pressure – is the pressure of the blood when your heart rests between beats and indicates how strongly your arteries are resisting blood flow.

Think of your blood pressure as you would water in a central heating system. In an ideal world,  the water will flow at the same pressure through the pipes thus working efficiently.

However, imagine for a moment that the pipes began to narrow and the water wasn’t flowing as freely as it should. The Diastolic pressure is the reading which measures how freely the water in your central heating system is flowing, only in this instance, it’s your blood flowing through your arteries.

Narrowing arteries = reduced flow = increased pressure.

What is a high blood pressure reading?

The NHS guidelines are that any reading above 140/90mmHg indicates high blood pressure (medically known as hypertension).

So, above 140 over 90 isn’t good news and could indicate high blood pressure/hypertension.

I say could indicate as  blood pressure readings are never constant and you’ll usually experience a variation in your readings. For example, for some blood pressure will be higher in the morning, while lower in the evening and for others it will be different.

So you’re GP or practice nurse will undergo a series of tests and readings prior to diagnosing high blood pressure.

This is why it’s vital that your first step should be to make an appointment with your GP and have your blood pressure taken by a qualified, experienced practitioner.

Simple ways to reduce high blood pressure.

In future posts, I’ll be sharing the simple ways that I’ve learnt that can help reduce high blood pressure. Methods which can either complement your existing medication, if you’re taking any – or reduce your blood pressure to levels that are below those where you’re likely to be subscribed high blood pressure medication.

Important thing is you take action – Book an appointment with your GP Practice and have your blood pressure checked – NOW.

As always, thanks for reading, don’t forget to sign up for regular updates.

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