This week, 12 – 18 September, is Blood Pressure UK’s ‘Know Your Numbers Week’, an awareness campaign to encourage people to have their blood pressure checked.

High blood pressure is known as ‘the silent killer’ as it rarely has any symptoms. The only way for people to know if they have the condition is to have their blood pressure measured, but it can cause serious health problems. Studies show that around 16 million people in the UK have high blood pressure. With high blood pressure being a major risk factor for heart attacks, heart failure and kidney disease, and a main risk factor for stroke, this is a very concerning figure. There is also increasing evidence that it is a risk factor for vascular dementia.

People with high blood pressure are three times more likely to develop heart disease and stroke, and twice as likely to die from these as people with a normal blood pressure. According to Blood Pressure UK, approximately 62,000 unnecessary deaths from stroke and heart attacks occur due to poor blood pressure control. Here are some tips on how to lower and maintain a healthy blood pressure:

  1. Eat less salt – High intake of salt can raise your blood pressure, so it is important to monitor how much you are eating. It is not necessarily the salt that you add to your food that is the problem, but more so the amount that is already in prepared foods like bread and ready meals. Always check the labels and choose low-salt options when possible and cut down the amount you add when cooking or seasoning food.
  2. Eat fruit and vegetables – Eating fresh fruit and vegetables may help to lower your blood pressure and maintain a healthy weight. It is recommended that adults eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.
  3. Maintain a healthy weight – A good diet and maintaining a healthy weight can lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of health problems. Increasing your physical activity and reducing your intake of unhealthy foods is key to maintaining good overall health.
  4. Be more active – Being active for only 30 minutes five times a week can help to keep your heart healthy and lower your blood pressure.
  5. Drink less alcohol – Over time, too much alcohol will raise your blood pressure. Keeping to the recommended intake limits may help to keep your blood pressure down.

For more information or to find out where you can have your blood pressure checked for free, visit www.bloodpressureuk.org.

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