High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, refers to the pressure of the blood pumping in your arteries being higher than normal. The condition is one of several risk factors that can increase your chance of developing serious health conditions such as heart disease and stroke. Hypertension often doesn't produce any symptoms so needs to be checked regularly.
Blood pressure measures the force of the blood pushing on the walls of the arteries which carry blood from your heart to your brain and the rest of your body. It naturally increases when you're physically active but when it's constantly high, it's termed hypertension and means your heart is being overworked.
Primary hypertension is when there is no clear cause – it's the most common type of hypertension. Secondary hypertension is when the cause can be identified, such as having a medical condition.
There are many factors that can lead to high blood pressure. One of the main causes is an unhealthy lifestyle. Risk factors linked to high blood pressure include:
- High alcohol consumption
- Being inactive
- Poor diet
- Family history of high blood pressure
- Certain medical conditions such as kidney disease and diabetes
- Some medicines, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) for example Nurofen
Blood pressure also tends to rise as we age due to the walls of the larger arteries losing their elasticity and becoming rigid.
When you get your blood pressure measured, the reading consists of two numbers. The first is the systolic blood pressure, which is the pressure when the heart beats while pumping blood - normally between 110 and 130mmHg. The second number is the diastolic blood pressure, which is the pressure when the heart is resting between beats - normally between 70 and 80mmHg. When we age usually the systolic blood pressure rises while diastolic blood pressure tends to fall.
It's important to have your blood pressure taken regularly as most people with hypertension don't show any symptoms. A rapid rise in blood pressure may cause headaches, difficulties with vision and blackouts. You can measure your blood pressure at home using Automatic Blood Pressure Monitors such as the Omron HEM-7200 Deluxe Blood Pressure Monitor and Microlife Blood Pressure Monitor A100 Plus.
Leading a healthy lifestyle and having regular blood pressure checks are the best ways to protect yourself against developing a dangerously high blood pressure. Hypertension can often be lowered through lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, eating a healthy low-fat diet, exercising, reducing alcohol, losing excess weight and managing stress levels.
You can also try natural supplements such as Swisse Wild Krill Oil and Fish Oil Concentrate Heart and Bio Organics Super Liquid Fish Oil Heart. Sometimes antihypertensive medication is also required to help lower blood pressure. Many of these work by relaxing and widening the walls of the blood vessels. It is always best to speak to your healthcare professional to see what’s best for you.