Did you know that high blood pressure affects more than 1 in 4 adults in the UK (according to the latest Government statistics)?
High blood pressure is known as “The Silent Killer” because it is often undiagnosed due to a lack of obvious symptoms, but high blood pressure was responsible for approximately 75,000 deaths in 2015 according to the Global Burden Of Disease Report.
But what is high blood pressure and how does it affect someone?
Well in order to understand the severity of high blood pressure, you first need to understand what blood pressure is.
The Circulatory System
- Transportation of oxygen, nutrients, hormones, carbon dioxide and waste products to and from specific tissues around the body.
- Protection against pathogens.
- Cooling the body by allowing heat transfer out of the body.
In order for blood to be transported around the body the heart needs to act as a pump. Each time the heart contracts it pushes blood around the body.
So What Is Blood Pressure?
Every time your heart beats it pushes blood through your arteries. Think of this like water flowing through a hose pipe which is attached to a pump. Every time the pump pushes water through the hose that water flows further along.
Now if your heart was at rest and not pumping there would be a certain amount of blood within your blood vessels. That volume of blood would be exerting a certain amount of pressure on the walls of your arteries and veins. As your heart contracts to push blood along that blood is forced along the vessels and causes an increase in the pressure that pushes against the blood vessel walls.
These 2 different pressures are what makes up a blood pressure reading and they are known as Systolic and Diastolic pressure.
Systolic pressure is the maximum pressure exerted on the arteries as the heart is pushing the blood through. This is always the highest pressure because the force is at its highest.
Diastolic pressure is the pressure in the arteries when the heart relaxes to fill back up with blood. This is always the lowest pressure because there is no additional force being applied from the heart.
Blood pressure is measured in milimeters of mercury (MmHg).
So when you take a blood pressure reading it should read as BigNumber/SmallNumber or we say it as BigNumber over SmallNumber.
An example (also the optimal reading) would be 120/80 MmHg or 120 over 80.
Low blood pressure would be less than 90/60 MmHg.
A normal blood pressure range would be between 90-120/60-80 MmHg.
A pre high blood pressure range would be 120-140/80-90 MmHg
High blood pressure is anything over 140/90 MmHg
So Why Is High Blood Pressure So Bad?
Your arteries are designed to withstand normal pressure exerted by the heart contracting. However, if the pressure becomes too high the pressure can lead to damaging the walls of the arteries.
As a way of repairing this damage your body patches it up by depositing substances such as cholesterol, fat, calcium and collagen. This leads to a build up of a fatty plaque which eventually causes narrowing of the blood vessels.
This narrowing of the blood vessels leads to reduced blood flow downstream which can lead to cell death. If this process happens in the heart it can lead to heart attacks, or if it happens in the brain it can cause strokes.
Consistent high blood pressure also puts strain on the blood vessels in your kidneys which can lead to kidney damage and ultimately kidney failure.
It is also possible that the high pressure within the arteries can cause rupture of the vessel walls. This can happen in the brain’s arteries which can also lead to the onset of a stroke.
What Should You Do?
Check Your Blood Pressure
The first thing you can do is get your blood pressure checked. You can do this at your GP’s practice or you can buy a home blood pressure monitor and check your blood pressure at home.
We recommend the Omron M3 Intellisense blood pressure monitor (see the picture to the right). It’s the same one we use at Precision Wellbeing and it’s super easy to use. There are of course more expensive ones but this will do you just fine.
DISCLAIMER: The above link is an affiliate link, and at no additional cost to you, we will earn a small commission if you decide to make a purchase. Please understand that we have experience with the product and we only recommend it because it is useful, not because of the small commissions we make. Please do not buy this product unless you feel you need it or that it will help you.
Improve Your Lifestyle
High blood pressure can be lowered naturally through diet, exercise and other lifestyle modifications but the extent that you can get change depends on how high your blood pressure was to begin with.
If your blood pressure is high it may mean you need to begin taking medication prescribed by your doctor to help you lower your blood pressure.
Ideally you would want to stop smoking and drinking and lose weight if you are overweight.
If you’re not currently exercising you should begin adding in cardiovascular exercise to your week such as brisk walking, cycling, swimming or dancing. Ideally you should be doing a minimum of 150 minutes a week (according to the NHS guidelines).
If you are eating processed foods then switching to more natural and unprocessed foods can also help.
Lastly if you are feeling overwhelmed by stress then find a way to help you relax. You can try things like, taking a bath, listening to relaxing music, meditation (there are some great apps out there such as Headspace or Calm) or simply just doing breathing exercises.
Do You Need Help?
Are you worried about your high blood pressure? Would you like to improve your diet or lifestyle to prevent high blood pressure? Well don’t worry, we can help you with this.
At Precision Wellbeing we have all the resources you need to help you improve your diet, your fitness or your lifestyle.
Simply get in touch with us and we can help guide you back to optimal health.