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Safety in numbers: how to maintain a healthy blood pressure reading

Do you know your numbers?

This week – we want you to find out! It’s Know Your Numbers Week, organised by Blood Pressure UK, to encourage people to find out their blood pressure numbers, and take action to reach and maintain a healthy blood pressure.  

But what exactly IS blood pressure? What’s a healthy number? Why is it so important for our overall health? And most importantly, how can you take steps to improve/maintain a healthy blood pressure? LOTS of questions, but don’t worry, we’re here to answer!  

Blood Pressure FAQs

? What is blood pressure? 

Blood pressure is the force the heart uses to pump blood around your body and how hard the blood is pushing against the walls of the blood vessels. This is read through two numbers – systolic (top), which measures the force and diastolic (bottom), which measures the pressure on the blood vessels.  

The ideal blood pressure reading is usually considered to be between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg.  

? What if my blood pressure is high? 

 More than 1 in 4 adults in the UK have high blood pressure (also known as hypertension)  

Generally high blood pressure is considered to be 140/90mmHg or higher (or 150/90mmHg or higher if you’re over the age of 80) 

If your blood pressure is too high, it puts extra strain on your blood vessels. Over time, this can negatively affect the heart and other organs, such as the brain, kidneys and eyes and lead to an array of health conditions such as; heart failure, coronary artery diseasestroke, kidney disease and dementia.  

So it’s important to do everything we can to maintain a healthy blood pressure reading to minimise the risk of these conditions.  

?How do I know if my blood pressure is too high? 

 If you do have high blood pressure (hypertension), there will usually be no symptoms, so it is important to get your readings taken regularlyThat’s why Blood Pressure UK are running the “Know your Numbers” campaign this week! On their website, you can find a ‘Pressure Station’ near you, where you can go for a free, quick and pain-free blood pressure check.  

?What causes hypertension? 

 Certain risk factors of hypertension are outside of your control (things like your age, gender, ethnicity and genetics). But there are also lifestyle factors than can lead to high blood pressure (things like being overweight, eating a poor diet, high salt intake and living a inactive lifestyle). So, the good news is, that by making some small changes like eating a healthier diet and getting more exercise, you may be able to lower your blood pressure and therefore reduce your risk of ill-health. 

BeeZee Bodies top tips for healthy blood pressure
  • Get checked out by your GP – Your GP will check your blood pressure and be able to give you sign off that you can exercise safely. If your blood pressure is too high, your GP may want to lower it with mediation before you increase your activity levels.  
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet –  Focus on including more fruit and vegetables in your diet (aim for at least 5 portions-a-day!) and heart healthy fibre such as whole grain bread, beans and oats. Check out the Eatwell Guide for an easy breakdown of a healthy, balanced diet.  
  • Reduce Salt Intake – Too much salt can disrupt the balance of sodium in the body and cause fluid retention. With more volume going through the vessels this will increase the pressure against the walls. While limiting the salt you add to your food at the table is important, this only contributes to a quarter of our total sodium intake! Pay attention to food labels when you are shopping and try to choose low-sodium options.  (Check out our guide to label reading for help!) 
  • Get Moving – The recommendation for those aged 19-64 years is 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise a week. This doesn’t mean you have to be at the gym all the time…just add more movement to the day, even if it’s walking to work or taking the stairs instead of the escalator! Find an activity you enjoy such as going for a walk, playing football or going for a swim. 
  • Join BeeZee Bodies! – being overweight or obese is linked to high blood pressure, and losing weight is one of the best ways to reduce your numbers. Of course by following the above tips you’re likely to naturally lose weight as a result. But if you’d like a little more support around making long-lasting behaviour change, understanding eating habits, and practical information like portion sizes, label reading and calorie balance, BeeZee Bodies groups are the place to start.

Find a BeeZee Bodies group for you

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