High Blood Pressure


Finding out you if have high blood pressure

High blood pressure a fairly common but dangerous condition. About 1 in 10 of the Somerset population will have high blood pressure but be unaware of it. High blood pressure often has no symptoms. Another 1 in 10 will have had high blood pressure diagnosed but it is poorly controlled.

If you have high blood pressure it puts strain on your heart and blood vessels and can increase the risk of heart attacks or stroke. It is recommended that everyone over age 45 gets their blood pressure measured at least once every five years and more often if you find out it is high.

Update Feb 2022: Our new health machine in Taunton library is now ready and free to use by members of the public. Just step on and it will give you a printout of your height, weight, blood pressure and pulse rate. This video by Clinton Rogers  explains all and there is a bit more background on the project here – Taunton Library Health Machine Info

If you want to check your blood pressure there are blood pressure monitors to loan in all libraries in Somerset. Click this link to see availability in your local library – just borrow one like you would a book.  Some pharmacies will also offer a free blood pressure measurement.

Home Blood Pressure Monitoring  

If you have an isolated high blood pressure reading, you may be advised to monitor your blood pressure at home over the course of a week. This gives a more reliable indication of your average blood pressure and is what your GP will want to know before taking further action. This video demonstration with a BHF senior cardiac nurse, shows how to measure blood pressure at home. How to measure blood pressure at home – video Blood pressure information is available in a range of languages.

  • If you have your own blood pressure monitor which is less than five years old you can use that. This is a Home blood pressure recording sheet (can be printed and posted or dropped in or emailed to your GP) BP Form 2022 .
  • There are over 200 blood pressure monitors available to loan at libraries in Somerset. Click this link to see availability in your local library.
  • Your GP practice may have some monitors they can lend you. They may also send you a text so you can report your blood pressure readings that way.
  • If you have high blood pressure detected at your local pharmacy, some are starting to run a scheme where you borrow a machine to monitor your blood pressure over a 24 hour period.

Once you know you have high blood pressure…

Don’t worry! Although this is not great, there are lots of other people coping and reducing their blood pressure. The British Heart Foundation run a free Online community for people with heart and circulatory conditions to get information and support from people who are going through similar situations. Blood Pressure UK is another great charity with plenty of resources to explain high blood pressure and a helpline if you want someone to talk to.

There are many lifestyle changes which you can put in place to reduce your blood pressure:

  • Eat more fruit and vegetables These are the best source of potassium in the diet which helps lower blood pressure. Try to eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. Don’t forget that frozen, canned and dried varieties count too.
  • Be active Aim for half an hour of exercise on five days of the week. The exercise needs to make you breath faster and warm you up.
  • Eat less salt An adult should eat less than 6g of salt a day. Over 75% of the salt we eat is already “hidden” in foods. Make sure you check food labels for salt content and don’t add extra to your food.
  • Drink alcohol in moderation Don’t drink more than 14 units of alcohol a week on a regular basis and spread this over three or more days.
  • Lose weight if you need to If you lose the excess weight, you will probably find your blood pressure reduces.
  • Stop smoking To reduce your risk of heart attack or stroke.
  • Cut back on caffeine Drinking more than 4 cups of coffee a day may increase your blood pressure. Try switching to caffeine free options.

Or you may need to look at medication. Your GP will advise you on the best course of action. The aim of treatment is to bring your average blood pressure to below 135/85 if you are under age 80 or under 145/85 if you are over 80. Once you know you have high blood pressure you should check it at least once a year to make sure your actions are still working to keep your average levels normal. If you find your blood pressure is creeping back up then it is time to review your lifestyle and consult with a GP again.

More information is available in these leaflets to download. Translated leaflets please click here













A bit more support from a health coach…

Health coaches are present in Taunton Library for drop-ins 10:30-12:30, Monday to Friday. If you are registered at one of the following practices then they can give you in-depth support.

  • College Way
  • Creech Medical Centre
  • Crown Medical Centre
  • French Weir Health Centre
  • Lister House
  • Luson Surgery
  • Lyngford Park Surgery
  • North Curry
  • Quantock Vale Surgery
  • St James
  • Taunton Vale Health Care
  • Warwick House
  • Wellington Medical Centre

Last reviewed: January 18, 2024 by John-Mark

Next review due: July 18, 2024

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