High blood pressure - do you Know Your Numbers?

The Blood Pressure Association (BPA) estimates that one in three adults in the UK has high blood pressure. Yet many of us are unaware that we are suffering or how to reduce our risk.

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From September 12 - 18, the charity runs Know Your Numbers Week, which encourages adults throughout the country to take a free test and helps them to understand how to maintain a healthy blood pressure.

If you are in any doubt as to your need to get checked, here are a few facts and figures from the BPA that might help you to make up your mind.
  • Known as the silent killer, it is thought more than five million people are unaware that they have high blood pressure.
  • It is the UK's most common cause of premature death and disability and is often responsible for strokes, heart attacks and heart disease.
  • High blood pressure may increase your risk of developing kidney disease and dementia.
  • If you have high blood pressure, you are three times more likely to develop heart disease or have a stroke, and twice as likely to die from such health issues as those with normal blood pressure.
  • Every year some 125,000 adults in the UK suffer a heart attack or stroke where high blood pressure is a key factor... and each of those is preventable.
So what can you do if your blood pressure is high?

A healthy diet and regular exercise are key to maintaining a healthy blood pressure - maintain a healthy weight and your heart won't have to work so hard.

A diet rich in fruit and vegetables will ensure your body gets all the vitamins, minerals and fibre it needs.

It's important to lower your salt intake, although that can be easier said that done. The BPA advises that around 80 per cent of our daily salt intake is hidden away in processed foods like bread, ready meals and breakfast cereals so reading the label is a must.

Cutting back on alcohol and saturated fat, which raises cholesterol levels, will also help to lower your blood pressure.

As for exercise, if you already have high (or very low) blood pressure and are on medication, it is best to speak to your GP before embarking on a new regime to ensure that you are not putting your health at risk.

But if your blood pressure if currently within the ideal range, regular physical activity will help it to stay that way.

If you are concerned about your blood pressure or are just keen to Know Your Numbers, take advantage of the BPA's campaign and get yourself checked.

For more information visit www.bpassoc.org.uk