According to the NHS, over 5 million people throughout the UK have high blood pressure, or hypertension, but remain unaware. The condition affects 1 in 4 adults and can lead to serious diseases like life-threatening heart conditions and diabetes. However, diagnosing hypertension early enables people to get the treatment they require.
It's common for people with high blood pressure to experience no symptoms at all. The NHS says that the only way to know for sure if you have high blood pressure is getting checked by your doctor. You should receive a full assessment once every five years from either your doctor or your local pharmacy. However, if you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure or a condition like heart disease in the past, you should get checked even more frequently.
The first step to recognising whether your blood pressure is a problem is knowing what symptoms to look for and what causes the condition.
What should you watch for?
Any blood pressure reading over 140/90 millimetres of mercury (mmHg) is considered high blood pressure. Feeling anxious or stressed can cause blood pressure levels to fluctuate throughout the day, so one reading that's 140/90mmHg or above doesn't necessarily mean that someone has hypertension. Therefore, before doctors officially diagnose patients with hypertension, they have to run multiple tests at different times.
The ideal blood pressure level would be around 120/80mmHg, with anything under under 130/80mmHg considered normal. Those who once had - or currently have - a condition like diabetes or problems with blood circulation should try to stay below 130/80mmHg.
In some unique cases, people with hypertension experience symptoms like blurred vision, a persistent headache and nosebleeds. However, only those with blood pressure levels that are very high will notice these warning signs, which are often accompanied by shortness of breath.
How can you manage your blood pressure?
High blood pressure puts extra strain on blood vessels and the heart. If the condition goes untreated, your risk of serious diseases like vascular dementia, kidney disease, stroke and heart attack grows significantly. The blood supply to the brain and heart are usually cut off due to hypertension, which is often what causes stroke and heart-related illnesses. Dementia occurs when there is so little blood flow to the brain that it becomes damaged.
If you are diagnosed with high blood pressure, it's advisable to review your lifestyle habits. A diet low in fat and salt that includes plenty of fruit and vegetables will help people maintain their weight - those who are overweight have greater chances of experiencing high blood pressure. Reducing alcohol consumption and quitting other poor habits like smoking will also lower one's risk of hypertension.
At Gracewell, our care homes – such as Gracewell of Camberley - are staffed with carers who make it their top priority to ensure that residents are healthy, active and socially engaged. To learn more about how we can help, contact us today.