High blood pressure, or hypertension, rarely has noticeable symptoms. But if untreated, it increases your risk of serious problems such as heart attacks and strokes.
What is blood pressure?
Blood pressure is the force generated by blood moving through your arteries as your heart pumps blood through your body.
What is high blood pressure (hypertension)?
High blood pressure (hypertension) occurs when the force of blood is stronger than it should be normally. For most people there are no symptoms. This means that many people are unaware they have high blood pressure.
Blood pressure is recorded with two numbers. The systolic pressure (higher number) is the force at which your heart pumps blood around your body.
The diastolic pressure (lower number) is the resistance to the blood flow in the blood vessels. They’re both measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg).
As a general guide, high blood pressure is considered to be 140/90mmHg or higher and ideal blood pressure is considered to be between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg.
The only way to find out if your blood pressure is high is to have your blood pressure checked.
Risks of high blood pressure
Persistent high blood pressure can increase your risk of a number of serious and potentially life-threatening conditions, such as blindness, heart attack, stroke, heart failure, kidney disease.
If you have high blood pressure, reducing it even a small amount can help lower your risk of these conditions.
Causes of high blood pressure
It’s not always clear what causes high blood pressure, but certain things can increase your risk.
You’re at an increased risk of high blood pressure if you:
Are over the age of 65
Are overweight or obese
Are of African or Caribbean descent
Have a relative(s) with high blood pressure
Eat too much salt and not enough fruit and vegetables
Don’t do enough exercise
Drink too much alcohol or coffee (or other caffeine-based drinks)
Don’t get much sleep or have disturbed sleep
Take oral contraceptives (especially in smokers)
Gender (men are more at risk than women but women’s risk increases in pregnancy and after menopause)
The most common type is essential hypertension which is high blood pressure that doesn’t have a known secondary cause. It’s also referred to as primary hypertension.
Most cases of high blood pressure are classified as essential hypertension. The other kind of hypertension is secondary hypertension. Secondary hypertension is high blood pressure that has an identifiable cause, such as kidney disease.
Making healthy lifestyle changes can help reduce your chances of getting high blood pressure and help lower your blood pressure if it’s already high.
If you have elevated blood pressure or hypertension, your doctor will recommend lifestyle changes to lower your blood pressure.
Can I Safely Exercise with Hypertension?
Can I Safely Exercise with Hypertension? This great article from ACLS Training offers great advice about exercising with hypertension.
Other recommended lifestyle changes include:
- Lose weight if you’re overweight.
- Quit smoking.
- Limit your alcohol intake to no more than one drink a day if you’re a woman and two drinks a day if you’re a man.
- Reduce your stress levels.
- Eat a low-sodium, heart-healthy diet that’s rich in potassium and fibre.
Doctors and hospitals
If you do need a doctor during your stay there are clinics in most areas which are mostly open 24 hours during the peak summer season
The local hospitals also provide emergency medical care