Physical Health

Essential Health Check: Blood Pressure

By June 16, 2016 No Comments

Blood pressure is the result of the heart pumping blood through arteries around the body, feeding it with the oxygen and energy it needs to operate. Everyone has blood pressure – the question is how low or high it is.

• High blood pressure (hypertension)
When our blood pressure is too high, our blood pushes hard against the walls of the blood vessels that contain it, which puts stress on our body. If it’s ongoing, we may end up with a stroke or heart attack. The tricky thing is that there aren’t really any obvious physical symptoms of high blood pressure. The only way to detect it is to have it checked by a professional such as a nurse, pharmacist or doctor.
• Low blood pressure (hypotension)
Some people naturally have low blood pressure and most don’t need to worry about it. It can occasionally be caused by a health condition or medication though, so it’s worth checking out. Symptoms of low blood pressure include feeling dizzy or faint, especially if you stand up suddenly.
How is blood pressure measured?
Blood pressure changes as our heart beats so a reading consists of two numbers, measured in “millimetres of Mercury” (mmHg). It is usually expressed as something like 120 over 80 (120/80). The first number, known as systolic blood pressure, represents the highest pressure reached, which happens as your heart beats. The heart relaxes between beats, which gives us a low pressure reading known as diastolic blood pressure, represented by the second number.

What is the ideal blood pressure?
For optimum health, our blood pressure should be between 90/60 and 120/80. Although there is a “normal” range around that, the higher your blood pressure is, the more likely you are to develop health problems.

How to keep your blood pressure at a healthy level
There are many things you can do:

• Exercise regularly e.g. walk, run, swim or dance – start slowly if you don’t normally exercise
• Eat healthily e.g. plenty of fresh fruit and veg, and less sugar, salt and processed fat
• Limit your alcohol intake
• Keep your weight under control by following the above pointers

Having your blood pressure checked costs very little, and if you donate blood, they’ll do it for you for free. Check yours today at your local clinic or pharmacy, and follow their advice if you find that your blood pressure needs some attention.

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