Hypertension, also referred to as high blood pressure, is a condition in which blood pressure is persistently high.
If it is left untreated, extra pressure is put on the heart and the arteries that carry blood to and from your heart and you increase the risk of having a heart attack or a stroke. Hypertension is strongly influence by age, and often increases with age. Lifestyle choices in younger people, however, can affect blood pressure later on in life.
The only way to know whether you have high blood pressure is to have it measured by your GP or at your local health clinic.
What can you do to improve your care?
Eating a healthy diet
Salt raises your blood pressure. It is therefore vital to maintain a healthy salt intake. Aim to eat only roughly a teaspoon or less of salt a day. In addition, a high fibre, low fat diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables can lower blood pressure and help to keep your body healthy. Choosing foods that state ‘no added salt’ or ‘low salt’ and avoiding processed foods, salty snacks and adding salt to meals will help to reduce your salt intake. To check whether you are a healthy weight, you can use the NHS BMI calculator. For more information on how to eat a balanced diet when you have high blood pressure, please view the British Dietetic Association ‘Food Factsheet for Hypertension’.
If you meet set criteria then you may be eligible for a free referral to Slimming World. Referrals are made via Bracknell Forest GP practices, stop smoking service and children centres. This will enable you to access a free 12-week course to Slimming World if the programme criteria are met. For further information please email Public.Health@bracknell-forest.gov.uk.
Cutting down on alcohol will help to lower your blood pressure. Keep to the daily alcohol limits and try not to have a drink every day. Men should not regularly drink more than three to four units of alcohol a day and women should not regularly drink more than two to three units a day. Binge drinking (drinking large amounts of alcohol in one sitting) can increase your risk of high blood pressure and heart attacks. The NHS choices website provides tips on cutting down.
Consume less coffee, tea or other caffeine-rich drinks such as cola. Drinking more than 4 cups of coffee a day may increase your blood pressure.
Exercising, along with eating a healthy diet, keeps your heart and arteries in a healthy condition and helps to lower blood pressure. Being overweight causes your heart to work harder to pump blood around the body. This again can raise blood pressure. It is recommended that you aim for 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most, if not all, days of the week.
For information on local physical activity services in Bracknell Forest, please visit our physical activity page.
Although smoking is indirectly linked to a rise in blood pressure, it does narrow your arteries, like hypertension. Smoking and having high blood pressure will cause this process to occur quicker, greatly increasing your risk of heart disease, heart attacks and strokes. Avoid smoking if you do not already smoke and if you do, why not try giving up.