High blood pressure is one of the most common conditions in this country. More than one in four adults in the UK have it, and we estimate that over 50,000 people in Bradford have undiagnosed high blood pressure … that’s enough people to fill Valley Parade football ground twice over!
Why should I know my blood pressure?
If your blood pressure is too high, it can do massive damage. It narrows the blood vessels and can lead to strokes and heart attacks, as well as angina, heart failure, kidney failure and narrowed arteries in the legs.
Taking just five minutes to find out your blood pressure could save your life! You can get your blood pressure taken by your practice nurse, pharmacist or you can take it yourself with an at home blood pressure monitor.
How do I know if my blood pressure is too high?
140/90 is the number to know. High blood pressure often has no symptoms, but two or more readings over 140 and/or over 90 is high blood pressure and you should see your GP. Sustained high blood pressure can damage the heart and increase the risk of stroke.
5 things to help you prevent high blood pressure
There isn’t always an explanation for the cause of high blood pressure, but you can help reduce your risk by:
- being more active
- losing weight
- reducing salt in your diet
- drinking less alcohol
- quitting smoking
Check to see if you are at risk of high blood pressure
1 Smoke? Yes No
2 Regularly drink too much (more than 6 pints of beer or 6 small classes of wine a week)? Yes No
3 Eat too much salt as part of your diet Yes No
4 Have a family history of high blood pressure Yes No
5 Not exercise regularly (30 minutes of moderate activity, such as walking, five times a week) Yes No
6 Consider yourself to be overweight (BMI of more than 25 – calculate your BMI). Yes No
Fantastic! It's still worth getting your blood pressure checked as there are often no symptoms of high blood pressure. You can check your blood pressure at home with a machine you can buy from a pharmacy, supermarket or online, or you can check your BP at a pharmacy, or with a practice nurse.
You could be at risk of high blood pressure: you can check yours at home with a machine that you can buy from a pharmacy, supermarket or online, or check your blood pressure at a pharmacy or with your practice nurse. Take a look at our advice about how to reduce your risk of high blood pressure.
When should I get my blood pressure checked?
You should get your blood pressure checked regularly, at least every year, as there are lots of different factors that can have an impact on your blood pressure numbers.
If your blood pressure is very high, your doctor is likely to prescribe you medicine to control it and reduce your risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
Measuring blood pressure at home
We encourage people to check their blood pressure at home for a more accurate reading. It is often more reliable than getting it checked at a hospital clinic or at your GP practice, as people tend to be more relaxed.
Buying a blood pressure monitor
To measure your blood pressure at home, you will need a home blood pressure monitor. You can buy a blood pressure monitor for as little as £10. If you are buying a blood pressure monitor, make sure it is approved for use in the UK. To make sure your monitor is accurate, choose one that is “accredited” (usually stated on the BP machine box) or choose one that has been listed as validated for accuracy by the British Hypertension Society. This means that the digital monitor has gone through a series of tests to make sure it gives results that you and your doctor can trust.
How to check your blood pressure at home
Practical tips on checking your own blood pressure
Make sure the cuff fits
Measure around your upper arm and choose a monitor that comes with the correct size cuff.
Don't smoke, drink caffeinated beverages or exercise 30 minutes before measuring your blood pressure.
Sit with your back straight and supported (on a dining chair, for example, rather than a sofa). Your feet should be flat on the floor; don't cross your legs. Your arm should be supported on aflat surface (such as a table) with the upper arm at heart level. Make sure the middle of the cuff is placed directly above the eye of the elbow. Check your BP machine`s instructions for an illustration.
Take multiple readings
Each time you measure, take two or three readings one minute apart and record all the results. Use the lowest reading.
Measure at the same time of day
It`s important to take the readings at the same time each day, such as morning and evening, or as your healthcare professional recommends.
Accurately record all your results
Record all of your readings, including the date and time taken. If you are seeing your practice nurse or GP about your blood pressure, remember to take your results with you. Some monitors have built-in memory to store your readings; if yours does, take it with you to your appointments.
Understand the readings
A healthy blood pressure is usually less than 140/90 mmHg. Find out more about what your blood pressure readings mean below.
Consult your healthcare professional if you get several high readings. A single high reading of blood pressure is not an immediate cause for alarm. However, if you get a high reading, take your blood pressure on several more occasions. If your readings are consistently above 140/90, you can discuss this with your practice nurse or GP. When blood pressure is more than 180/110 despite rechecking it several times, this is quite high and it is usually best to see your practice nurse or GP the same day.
Know Your Numbers - Is my blood pressure high, normal or low?
High blood pressure
If you consistently have a reading of 140/90 or higher, you may have high blood pressure (hypertension). High blood pressure increases your risk of developing some health conditions, including heart attacks and strokes.
Generally, the lower your blood pressure, the healthier you are. If you have high blood pressure, you should be aiming for a reading less than 140/90. If you have diabetes or kidney disease, your doctor or specialist may aim for a lower blood pressure, but for people under the age of 80, 140/90 is a good target.
Blood pressure that is consistently higher than 180/110 is significantly raised. If after several measurements when you are properly relaxed your blood pressure reading does not reduce, you should speak to your GP (on the same day).
Low blood pressure
People with a reading of around 100/60 or lower are generally considered to have low blood pressure.
Low blood pressure can sometimes cause dizziness. If you are on treatment to lower your blood pressure, have readings below 100/60 and feel dizzy, you should talk to your practice nurse or GP about reducing your medication.
It is also important to think about low blood pressure when you are feeling ill. If you are on treatment to lower your blood pressure and feeling ill, you can sometimes get dehydrated. Conditions like sickness and diarrhoea can cause dehydration. Dehydration can result in low blood pressure and dizziness, and it can affect your kidneys. It is worth speaking to your GP if this affects you as it might be sensible to reduce some of your blood pressure medicine until your blood pressure returns to normal and you are no longer dehydrated.