What is blood pressure?
As blood circulates around your body it pushes against the walls of your arteries. This 'pushing' is what is measured to determine your blood pressure.
Your blood pressure is made up of two numbers. The first number is your systolic rate. This is a measurment of the pressure against the walls of your blood vessels and arteries when your heart contracts. If your blood pressure is 120 over 80 (120/80mmHg) then 120 is your systolic rate. The second number is a measurement of the pressure when your heart relaxes. This is your diastolic rate. In this example 80 would be your diastolic rate.
Why is it important?
Having high blood pressure puts you at more risk from having a heart attack or stroke. Long term high blood pressure can cause damage to your blood vessels and arteries, as well as your kidneys.
How do I know if I have high blood pressure?High blood pressure often has no symptoms so you may not know you have it unless you get checked by a medical professional (with the exception of very high blood pressure which does have symptoms).
Understanding your numbers
What numbers indicate that you have healthy blood pressure and when should you be concerned?
This chart is a rough guide to what your numbers mean. For your blood pressure to be classed as normal, your systolic (top) number needs to be between 90 and 120 and your diastolic (bottom) should be between 60 and 80. If either number is higher than this, then you have either high blood pressure or pre-high blood pressure.
How we can help
There are many factors that can contribute to having high blood pressure including genetics and age. There are also lifestyle factors that affect your blood pressure such as:
- reducing your salt intake
- Inccreasing your physical activity
- stopping smoking
- reducing your alcohol intake
- maintaining a healthy weight
The North Lincolnshire Healthy Lifestyle Service can help you to achieve your goals, and put you in touch with other services that may be able to help. Whether you're looking to stop smoking, manage your alcohol intake, or just get a little more active, contact the Healthy Lifestyle Service and they can give you a helping hand to get you started.
Where can I find out more?
You can get support and information from lots of places. Many pharmacies offer free blood pressure checks and can advise you on lifestyle changes, or if necessary, make a referral to your GP. GP's often have specialist nurses and may refer you to services such as dieticians or run smoking cessation clinics.
There is lots of information available online including this free booklet by British Heart Foundation about managing your blood pressure. Blood Pressure UK have also produced a range of resources that are free to download about maintaining healthy blood pressure.