You’d be amazed how many people don’t know their blood pressure. According to the British Heart Foundation, around 7 million people in the UK are living with undiagnosed high blood pressure. Surprising, when you consider the knock-on risks of heart disease, heart attacks, strokes and kidney disease.
Put simply, blood pressure is the force with which blood through your blood moves through your blood vessels around the body. High blood pressure rarely produces symptoms, so the best way to find out if you have high blood pressure is to get it tested before the subsequent effects strike.
Know Your Numbers
With the potential risks linked to high blood pressure, it's important to understand what your readings mean ...
Blood pressure readings consist of two numbers – systolic pressure and diastolic pressure. Systolic blood pressure – the higher value – is the force at which the heart contracts and blood is pumped through the arteries. Whereas diastolic blood pressure – the lower value – is the lowest point of pressure between beats when the heart relaxes. A reading for people in good health would be below 120/80.
5 Tips to Lower your Blood Pressure
Blood pressure can be reduced by making some simple lifestyle changes. Let's take a look at some ways you can start doing so now...
- Pass the salt
According to Blood Pressure UK, eating too much salt is the biggest cause of high blood pressure. That's because salt makes your body retain water, which in turn raises blood pressure. Too much salt also can mean that blood pressure medicines like diuretics mighy not work as well. Current guidelines say to eat no more than 6g of salt per day - but most of us are consuming way more than this. Added salt is in ready meals and even cereals. Season your meals with spices like paprika, black pepper, and garlic instead.
- Watch your waist
Blood pressure often increases as weight increases - so if you're overweight you may want to lose some lbs. But, it might be even more important to watch your waistline rather than your weight, because excess belly fat can lead to high blood pressure. Men should keep their waist under 40 inches, and women aim for below 35 inches.
- Exercise regularly
Just 30 minutes per day can help to reduce your blood pressure! Walking, cycling and swimming are good aerboic exercises that'll help you to keep your blood pressure down. You might also benefit from high-intensity interval training (HIIT) or strength training. If you're new to exercise, or you're not sure what exercise to choose, a home DNA test can help determine the best exercise to suit your unique genetics and health goals.
- Go bananas for potassium!
A balanced and healthy diet is obviously going to be good for your body... but a certain nutrient will help to reduce the negative effects that sodium has on blood pressure. It's potassium! Consider adding potassium-rich food sources like sweet potato, fat-free yoghurt, white beans and (of course) bananas. But, talk to your doctor about the potassium level that's best for you.
- Reduce your stress
Chronic stress may contribute to high blood pressure, and especially if you react to it by eating unhealthy food, drinking alcohol or smoking. Of course, reducing stress is easier said than done. But, there are steps you can take to help. Firstly, start by identifying the cause of your stress and work on how you can resolve it - just deal with one issue at a time. Also, ensure you've got time to relax and unwind, to do the things you enjoy. In our recent survey, volunteering was something that a lot of people said helped them to improve their overall health and wellbeing.
If lifestyle changes cannot reduce your blood pressure enough you'll be prescribed medication by your doctor to help bring it under control and reduce your risk. With more than 1 in 4 people in the UK suffering from high blood pressure, it's so important for individuals to be able to keep a record and manage their own pressure levels.
Evergreen Life Personal Health Record app
The Evergreen Life app allows you to record your blood pressure information and keep track of your medication. Not only does it help you manage your own records and medication, it also allows you to share the information with carers, family members or healthcare professionals who can support you with your progress.
In the blood pressure section you can regularly update your blood pressure readings and view your progress on the timeline. The health and fitness monitor will also allow you to track the other benefits of your lifestyle changes, giving you an accurate summary in the palm of your hand.
Blood pressure checks are quick and painless but can be a life saver. So, get to know your numbers and visit the Blood Pressure UK website to find your local free blood pressure centre.
If you’re concerned at all about your blood pressure, make an appointment with your GP – you can do this quickly and easily with the Evergreen Life app. Find out how to book an appointment in five easy steps.