Keep your blood pressure down
When blood pressure is too high, the heart has to work harder to pump blood around the body. To cope with the extra effort the heart muscle becomes thicker over time, but eventually it becomes too stiff or weak to work properly. Keeping blood pressure down can stop this happening so it is useful to have a blood pressure check regularly.
The doctor, nurse or pharmacist who takes your blood pressure will be able to tell you whether it is normal. They will give you two numbers because blood pressure goes up and down over the cycle of the heartbeat. One of the numbers is your highest (systolic) blood pressure, the pressure when your heart beats and forces the blood around the body, and one is the lowest (diastolic) blood pressure, the pressure when your heart relaxes after beating, allowing the heart to fill with blood. The highest number should not be above 140, and the lowest should be below 90. So a reading of 138/84 is in the normal range, but a reading of 150/94 would be too high.
It is important to know that one measurement is not usually enough to tell if you have high blood pressure. If your first reading is high, two or three readings are normally taken at other times. This is because blood pressure increases when people are under physical or emotional stress, so your reading can be higher than usual when you are somewhere unfamiliar, such as a doctors surgery or a hospital. This is sometimes called white coat hypertension.
Therefore, a few measurements with you sitting down and relatively relaxed, will give a good idea of what your blood pressure really is. In some cases, your doctor might want you to have 24-hour blood pressure monitoring (ambulatory blood pressure monitoring or ABPM), where you wear a blood pressure monitoring machine for 24 hours to get an accurate blood pressure reading. This kind of monitoring is not usually necessary.
Lifestyle Changes to help you manage your blood pressure
There are a few simple lifestyle changes that will keep blood pressure down including:
• Losing excess weight.
• Eating more fruit and vegetables.
• Cutting down on salt.
• Taking regular exercise.
• Not drinking more alcohol than the recommended daily amount.
It may also be necessary to take blood pressure medicines (usually more than one) to get your blood pressure down to a healthy level. It is important that you and your doctor choose the medicine or combination of medicines that will suit you. Always ask what when you getting prescribed a drug – what is it for – how does it interact with me -finally are there any side effects?