Around 16 million people in the UK have high blood pressure but a third of them will know nothing about it.
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, can put extra strain on your heart and increase your risk of stroke, heart attack and a number of medical conditions. But one in three people with high blood pressure know nothing about it as it rarely causes any symptoms.
The only way to know for sure if your blood pressure is in the normal range is to have it checked. This week is Know Your Numbers Week and people up and down the country are being urged to have their blood pressure taken at locations near them.
Blood Pressure UK will be checking people’s blood pressure free of charge at stations all over the country until Sunday, September 16 and you can find your nearest here.
Having your blood pressure checked is quick and painless and could save your life. Every year, 62,000 people die unnecessarily from strokes and heart attacks caused by poorly controlled blood pressure.
Although most people with high blood pressure will need medication, there are things you can do yourself to help keep it under control.
Keeping active can help lower your blood pressure. Aim to take part in 30 minutes of physical activity every day if you can. Exercise can be daunting if you are not used to it so why not start with some simple chair exercises you can complete in the comfort of your own living room.
Taking a look at your diet and losing a few pounds can help bring your blood pressure down as it is often linked to being overweight. Even losing 10 pounds can make a real difference to your blood pressure so set that as your initial target and go from there.
One simple lifestyle change you can make is to stop adding salt to your food. Avoid ready meals with high sodium levels and look for options which are low in salt. Cooking your meals from scratch and leaving salt out of the cooking process is the easiest way to keep on top of your sodium consumption but when that isn’t possible, make sure you check your food labels. You should never eat more than 6g of salt a day, although the average adult exceeds the recommended levels by typically eating 8g on a daily basis.
Quitting smoking, reducing the amount of alcohol you drink and cutting down on the amount of caffeine you consume can all help reduce your blood pressure. Set yourself achievable goals to tackle your particular vice and seek help if necessary.
Feeling stressed and anxious can raise your blood pressure. If you are in a difficult situation, your body produces a surge of hormones which causes your heart to beat faster and your blood pressure to rise. This can be dangerous if your blood pressure is already high so try your best to relax at the end of a busy day and enjoy some calming me-time. Read our top tips on beating the stress with relaxation here.