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Is your blood pressure at risk of going through the roof?

Posted in: Heart Health 14 Feb, 2012

Many of us go about our lives thinking we know what’s good for us, what’s bad for us; what it means to be healthy. But, if we really think about it, do we understand the effects of our lifestyles on our health? For example, what do we know about blood pressure?

High blood pressure isn’t necessarily the first thing you’d think about, especially if you’re under the age of 35 and as heart problems are normally associated with older people. Yet, considering the ways in which we live could have considerable impact on our blood pressure, and that we may be unaware of potential symptoms because they are outwardly unnoticeable, there is reason enough to keep a careful eye on it.

As modern society apparently dictates to us how and when we can fit into our busy schedules that which enables us to live healthy lives, we need to make an avowed effort to make time for our health – before our blood pressure levels go through the roof.

Why you could be as risk of high blood pressure

Known as the ‘silent killer’, a rising blood pressure level must be avoided - by understanding your health and controlling your lifestyle – because finding out that it’s too high could come too late. The only way of knowing your blood pressure is to get it tested; invisible symptoms will not warn you that you are on course for further health complications, such as a stroke or heart attack.

Therefore, it is essential that you acknowledge your lifestyle which, if not kept in check, could be a cause for concern . What are you doing that could put you at risk?

  • Too much salt in your diet can raise blood pressure and put pressure on the arteries, and is commonly found in junk food and increasingly so in other foods. If your diet is particularly unhealthy, there is a possibility of high salt consumption. High levels of caffeine can also raise blood pressure. Poor diet can often be a result of busy lifestyles.
  • Inactivity and general lack of exercise is bad for your overall health and condition of your heart. In such busy, modern times, it can be difficult to get an ideal amount of exercise when our day-to-day jobs can limit the time and energy needed to be active.
  • If poor diet and lack of exercise feature in your lifestyle, it won’t be surprising to note that weight can affect blood pressure level as well. Being overweight, whether by poor lifestyle management or underlying medical illness, can cause high blood pressure, and should be controlled where possible.
  • Though it does not directly cause blood pressure, smoking increases the risk of stroke or heart attack by narrowing the arteries. If you are already at risk of high blood pressure or heart problems, smoking is not going to help.
  • Genetics do not typically have an effect on blood pressure, but it is possible, so be aware of cases in your family history.
  • Underlying medical illnesses, such as diabetes and high cholesterol, can also affect blood pressure (also known as secondary high blood pressure), so should be managed as efficiently as possible to avoid further health problems.
  • There are times when life can be especially hard. The stress of demanding jobs and busy lifestyles can eventually take their toll, increasing blood pressure putting too much pressure on our arteries.

Managing your blood pressure level

According to Lloyds Pharmacy’s recent figures, a study of over 100, 000 tests carried out over the last two years has revealed that up to 70% of adults have high blood pressure, and that less than 1 in 5 people have normal readings.

Ideal blood pressure should read as 120/80. Anything over 140/90 is classed as above normal and potentially dangerous or fatal to your health.

Considering that an increasing and ageing population could put greater pressure on the health services to support it, it is essential to realise that good health should always be encouraged. We cannot assume that we are in good health when we can’t be sure what’s going on inside. Acknowledging and managing your blood pressure level now can save a whole lot of stress - something which you could definitely do without.

So what can you do?

  • Maintain a balanced diet (even if you are busy, you can still go for the healthier options);
  • Exercise when you can – some activity is better than none;
  • Maintain your weight – keep a check on diet and exercise;
  • Cut back on or, better still, quit smoking to reduce the risk of heart problems;
  • Be aware of your general health. Do you have any other medical complains which could affect blood pressure?
  • Relax. Modern life can be testing - sometimes, you just need a break!
  • Get tested. It is recommended that you get checked at least once every five years. Precautionary tests like this can be lifesaving.
  • If you have been diagnosed with a more serious problem, ensure to take prescribed high blood pressure treatments efficiently.

As Dr Leslie Hamilton, a consultant heart surgeon from the Freeman Hospital, in Newcastle, said of high blood pressure, "it’s not dubbed 'the silent killer' for nothing – as a heart surgeon I’m exposed every day to what can do wrong when you don’t take control of your blood pressure."

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