What is Blood Pressure?
Blood pressure refers to the pressure on the walls of your arteries as your blood pumps through your body. Your blood pressure goes up and down through the day all the time depending on a number of factors (for example due to exercise). If you regularly have blood pressure readings above 140/90mmHg, this is considered ‘high’ blood pressure (or ‘hypertension’).
What causes high blood pressure?
Rarely, high blood pressure can be due to a medical condition or medications. However, most of the time the cause is unclear and a number of factors contribute towards it, including your age, a family history of high blood pressure, eating habits (especially salty foods), alcohol, weight and exercise.
How do I know if I have high blood pressure?
Usually, you will not have any symptoms for high blood pressure. Instead, it is something that a doctor or health professional will discover when testing for it. As you get older, it is a good idea to have regular check-ups with your doctor, who will likely test your blood pressure.
Why does having high blood pressure matter?
Because there are no symptoms involved with having high blood pressure, it can be easy to think it is not important. However, having high blood pressure can significantly increase your risk of having serious medical problems, including heart attacks and strokes. It can also do damage to your kidneys.
What should I do about it?
Talk to your doctor about whether you should start medication for your blood pressure. Apart from this, there are a number of things you can do to lower the risks associated with low blood pressure:
Diet and exercise. Losing weight and exercising can lower your blood pressure, it can also independently lower your risk of having a heart attack. In particular, having foods that are low in salt may help in keeping your blood pressure from rising. Moderating your alcohol intake can also help.
Stop smoking. Smoking can increase your blood pressure and can increase your risk of a heart attack. If you need any help quitting talk to your doctor or call Quitline on 13 78 48
Check your cholesterol. High cholesterol is another risk factor for heart disease and can often occur with high blood pressure, it is worth checking this as it can be treated with a healthy diet or medication.
Ensure your diabetes is under control. If you have diabetes, it is important that this is well-controlled as this can also increase your risk of heart attack or stroke.
If you are interested in learning more about this topic, feel free to book an appointment with one of our friendly doctors by booking online or contacting us by phone on 8269 6000.
The Heart Foundation. 2018. What causes high blood pressure. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.heartfoundation.org.au/your-heart/know-your-risks/blood-pressure. [Accessed 20 March 2018].
O’Callaghan, CJ, Goh, MY, Rong, P 2013, ‘Hypertension, The Difficult Decisions’, Aust Fam Physician, vol. 42, no. 6, pp 376-379
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