jump directly to:
- what is blood pressure?
- what is high blood pressure (hypertension)?
- what causes high blood pressure?
- symptoms of high blood pressure
- How is blood pressure measured?
- Where can I measure or test my blood pressure?
- what is a healthy or normal blood pressure?
- medications and treatments for high blood pressure
- help and support
- drink too much alcohol
- being overweight
- not getting enough exercise
- eating too much salt
- kidney disease
- diabetes and
- some medications, such as oral contraceptives and some over-the-counter and herbal medications.
- gp surgeries
- some pharmacies
- some workplaces
- an nhs health check
- Learn more about how you can measure and monitor your blood pressure at home.
- systolic: less than 90 mmHg
- diastolic: less than 60 mmHg
- systolic: less than 140 mmHg
- diastolic: less than 90 mmHg
- systolic: between 140 and 180 mmHg
- diastolic: between 90 and 110 mmHg
- systolic: greater than 180 mmHg
- diastolic: greater than 110 mmHg
what is blood pressure?
Blood pressure is the pressure of blood in the arteries, the vessels that carry blood from the heart to the brain and the rest of the body. you need a certain amount of pressure to circulate blood through your body.
Your blood pressure naturally rises and falls during the day and night, and it’s normal for it to rise as you move. it’s when your overall blood pressure is consistently high, even when you’re resting, that you need to do something about it.
what is high blood pressure (hypertension)?
High blood pressure is medically known as hypertension. it means your blood pressure is constantly too high and it means your heart has to work harder to pump blood around your body. high blood pressure is serious. if you ignore it, it can lead to heart and circulatory diseases like heart attack or stroke. it can also cause kidney failure, heart failure, vision problems, and vascular dementia.
Although your arteries are elastic to cope with your rising and falling blood pressure, if you have high blood pressure, your arteries lose their elasticity and become stiff or narrow. the narrowing makes it easier for fatty material (atheroma) to clog them.
If the arteries that supply blood to the heart become damaged and clogged, it can lead to a heart attack. if this happens in the arteries that carry blood to the brain, it can cause a stroke.
What causes high blood pressure?
There is not always an explanation for the cause of high blood pressure, but most people develop high blood pressure due to their diet, lifestyle, or medical condition.
Sometimes high blood pressure runs in families and can also get worse with age. people who live in deprived areas are at higher risk of high blood pressure, and it is also more common if you are of black African or black Caribbean descent. Even in these cases, you may still be able to improve your blood pressure by changing your diet and staying active.
all of these can increase your risk of high blood pressure:
In a very small number of people, the cause of high blood pressure can be identified. doctors sometimes call this secondary hypertension. for example, an abnormal production of hormones from the adrenal glands can cause high blood pressure. If your doctor treats you for the hormonal condition, your blood pressure should return to normal.
Other causes of secondary hypertension include:
If you are concerned that any medication or remedy may affect your blood pressure, ask your doctor or pharmacist about it.
Visit the nhs website for more information on the causes of secondary hypertension.
symptoms of high blood pressure
High blood pressure rarely has noticeable symptoms. That’s why it’s so important to control your blood pressure. learn more about the symptoms of high blood pressure.
How is blood pressure measured?
Your blood pressure is usually measured with a sphygmomanometer (pronounced “svig-mo-man-ometer”). this is usually a digital electronic monitor, which is connected to an inflatable cuff that is wrapped around the upper arm.
When measuring blood pressure, the reading is written as two numbers. the first is when the pressure is at its highest point (or systolic pressure), and the second at its lowest point (or diastolic pressure). For example, your reading will be something like: 140/90 mmHg (mmHg is a unit for measuring blood pressure). it will tell you something like ‘140 over 90’.
systolic pressure: This is the highest level of your blood pressure, when your heart beats and contracts to pump blood through your arteries.
diastolic pressure: This is the lowest level of your blood pressure, when your heart relaxes between beats.
Where can I measure or test my blood pressure?
You can control your blood pressure at:
Up to 5 million adults in the UK have undiagnosed high blood pressure, so they won’t know they’re at risk. the only way to know if you have high blood pressure is to have it measured. therefore, it is important to monitor your blood pressure.
what is a healthy or normal blood pressure?
Your blood pressure should be below 140/90 mmHg.
Learn more about low blood pressure.
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Additional monitoring, such as home monitoring or apm, would normally be needed to make a diagnosis of hypertension.
medications and treatments for high blood pressure
If your blood pressure is thought to be high or very high, your doctor will offer you medication to help lower it. learn more about medications and treatments for high blood pressure.
help and support
If you have high blood pressure, it’s important to know that you’re not alone. it is important to find support from the people around you and from health professionals. be sure to check your blood pressure and keep a journal of your readings regularly, so you can see your progress.
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Call our cardiac care line on 0300 330 3311 to speak to one of our cardiac nurses. They can provide you with information and support about heart and circulatory diseases and their risk factors.
learn more about the symptoms and treatment of high blood pressure