Posted: Mon, 10 Sep 2018 07:30
1 in 3 adults in the UK have high blood pressure, which is one of the largest known causes of premature death and disability. High blood pressure increases your risk of stroke, heart attack and heart disease, as well as being a risk factor for kidney disease and dementia.
They call high blood pressure 'the silent killer', with 5 million people unaware that their numbers are too high.
This week, Know Your Numbers! is Blood Pressure UK's flagship awareness campaign which encourages you to know you blood pressure numbers and to take action towards reaching and maintaining a healthy blood pressure.
Know the facts
Blood pressure is the pressure of blood flowing through your arteries. High blood pressure can cause damage to the lining of your arteries and blood vessels, and cause them to narrow, leading to damage to the brain or heart.
A healthy blood pressure is measured as '120 over 80' or 120/80mmHg.
High blood pressure is diagnosed when blood pressure is measured consistently at a level 140/90mmHg or greater. You may also hear high blood pressure described as 'hypertension'.
Your blood pressure can also be too low. A figure of below 90/60mmHg is an indicator of low blood pressure. You should speak to your doctor about the best thing to do in this situation.
Maintaining a healthy blood pressure through physical activity
People who are physically inactive are at a greater risk of high blood pressure. Increasing your physical activity by just a small amount can be enough to have a positive impact on your numbers. In fact, becoming more active can act as well as some blood pressure medications.
Blood pressure increases naturally as we age, but physical activity can slow this increase and keep it at a healthy level for longer.
To keep your blood pressure low, you need to be exercising regularly. Don't expect changes to happen immediately either, it can take one to three months to have an impact on your blood pressure. If you stop exercising, the benefits will also stop.
The best exercise is physical activity that increases your heart and breathing rates (aerobic activity). This might include household chores such as mowing the lawn and gardening, active sports e.g. tennis, climbing stairs, walking/jogging/running, swimming or bicycling.
Check with your doctor before you begin exercising, particularly if you have high blood pressure. Start your new programme of exercise slowly. Remember to warm up and cool down. Build up the intensity gradually.
Remember to regularly track your blood pressure readings. This will let you know if your active lifestyle is having a positive effect on your blood pressure. Make sure you check your blood pressure before you exercise and not directly after, as there can be small (but safe) elevations in your blood pressure after exercise.
The physical activity guidelines
For adults, it is recommended that you are physically active for 150 minutes a week at a moderate intensity or 75 minutes a week at a vigorous intensity. This doesn't have to be completed all in one go. Try to be physically active for 30 minutes on most days of the week.
More information on how you can track your blood pressure and ways of maintaining a healthy pressure here.