Health & Safety

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High Blood Pressure

28 March 2009

blood pressure monitor

High blood pressure is the main risk factor for stroke and a major risk factor for heart attack, heart failure and kidney disease. More than 50,000 deaths from stroke and 100,000 deaths from heart disease in the UK each year are attributable to high blood pressure.

  • High blood pressure is a level consistently at or above 140mmHg and/or 90mmHg.
  • Approximately 16 million people in the UK have high blood pressure.
  • 30% of women and 32% of men have high blood pressure.
  • Up to the age of 64 there are higher rates of men with high blood pressure than women.

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.

High blood pressure rarely has any symptoms, the only way for people to know if they have the condition is to have their blood pressure measured. Approximately one third of people with high blood pressure do not know that they have it.

The health risks increase as blood pressure rises.

High blood pressure can be treated and an individual with high blood pressure that is well controlled reduces their risk of stroke and heart disease to almost that of a person who does not have high blood pressure.

If your blood pressure is high it can often be treated successfully by making lifestyle changes i.e.

  • Eating a diet with less salt,
  • Consuming less fat and more fruit and vegetables,
  • Keeping at your ideal weight and taking more exercise,
  • If you have a healthy blood pressure making these changes will help to keep it that way.

The UK population eats far too much salt, a consequence of which is high blood pressure. The Government, food manufacturers and retailers and other interested groups have met several times to discuss ways in which the daily salt intake of the UK population can be reduced. Many organisations and the Government want to see salt consumption reduced to at no more than six grams of salt a day for adults and less for children.

The good news is that having your blood pressure checked is quick, free and painless. And you can have a free blood pressure test anytime throughout the year at GP surgeries, health centres, and many high street and supermarket pharmacies.