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Is high blood pressure avoidable?

Posted in: Heart Health 13 Apr, 2012

New figures released yesterday by the charity Diabetes UK have shown that just 50% of people with diabetes are meeting their targets when it comes to their blood pressure. The organisation is worried that after a patient has been diagnosed with the disease, not enough is being done in order to reduce the risks of complications.

The fact that half of the people who suffer from diabetes have high blood pressure is also cause for concern given that record numbers of people with the disease are suffering from kidney failure and stroke, which are symptomatic of the condition.

It is not just people with diabetes who are at risk. Statistics show that 30% of the population are living with high blood pressure, which can become a serious condition when left untreated. There is a wide range of information and medication available to people who want to cut down their blood pressure levels, so why is it that so many people are still living with the risks?

Anyone with diabetes will be aware of their blood pressure as they will have been tested when they were first diagnosed and then routinely afterwards, so the fact that the numbers have not improved at all from last year show that some patients are not making the necessary changes in order to reduce their blood pressure.

High blood pressure does not show symptoms, so some people may not know that they are living with the condition until a doctor decides to test for it. This means that many cases go undetected and can cause serious problems such as blood clots, heart attacks or a stroke. Cardiovascular disease is one of the leading causes of death in the developed world, so even if you feel fine, having a simple blood pressure test could be vital in staying healthy.

People who are diagnosed with high blood pressure are often given a list of lifestyle changes which they are advised to implement in order to try and lower it without medication. However, many people do not wish to alter their diet, do more regular exercise or stop smoking and drinking – all of which are major contributing factors in regulating the blood pressure.

It is easy to shrug off a symptomless condition with a wave of the hand when you feel perfectly healthy and your doctor is telling you to give up some of the things which you most enjoy in life. But is it really worth it?

Many of us have been promising to lose weight, give up smoking, stop eating red meat and join a gym for years, so perhaps the answer is not to have doctors lecture us but to adopt a healthy lifestyle from early on which we can pass on to the next generations. Diabetes and coronary disease are both conditions which people are born with a predisposition towards, and risking possible death just to be rebellious and keep putting salt on your food seems like a slightly misguided decision.

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