Don’t stress, we’ll take the pressure

Aged 40 - 75? Find out how you might be at risk of high blood pressure (hypertension)

Gif asking readers to book a blood pressure test.

Why is it important to have your blood pressure checked?

High blood pressure (hypertension) rarely has noticeable symptoms, but if untreated it increases your risk of heart attack, heart failure, kidney disease, stroke or dementia. Conditions caused by high blood pressure cost the NHS over £2 billion every year. By reducing the blood pressure of the nation as a whole, £850 million of NHS and social care spend could be avoided over 10 years.

Over five million people in England are unaware they have high blood pressure, yet it affects more than one in four adults. The only way of knowing there is a problem is to have your blood pressure checked. All adults should have their blood pressure checked regularly (at least every five years). Having this done is easy and could save your life.

What is high blood pressure?

Your heart pumps blood around your body to deliver energy and oxygen. A certain amount of pressure in your blood vessels is needed to do this. However, if there is too much pressure in your blood vessels, it puts extra strain on your arteries and heart, which can lead to serious conditions such as heart attack, heart failure, kidney disease, stroke, or dementia.

Who is most at risk?

Your chances of having high blood pressure increase as you get older. There isn’t always a clear cause of high blood pressure but you are at increased risk if you:

  • are aged over 65 however if you’re aged over 40 your risk of getting hypertension will start increasing
  • are overweight
  • have a relative with high blood pressure
  • are of African or Caribbean descent
  • eat too much salt
  • don’t eat enough fruit and vegetables
  • don’t do enough exercise
  • drink too much alcohol
  • drink too much coffee (or other caffeine-based drinks)
  • smoke

If you fall into any of the groups listed above, consider making changes to your lifestyle to lower your risk of high blood pressure. Also, consider having your blood pressure checked at least once a year.

You can take steps to prevent high blood pressure by:

  • losing weight if you need to
  • reducing the amount of salt you eat
  • exercising regularly
  • eating a healthy diet
  • cutting back if you drink too much alcohol
  • cutting down on caffeine
  • stopping smoking

Where can you get your blood pressure checked?

If you haven’t had your blood pressured measured recently, or you don’t know what your blood pressure reading is, you can have it checked in a number of places including at your GP surgery, in a pharmacy, or at home with a blood pressure monitor.