High blood pressure (Hypertension)

One of your hearts functions is to pump blood, oxygen and nutrients through the arteries in your body. Blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is the pressure of the blood moving around your body. 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.

High blood pressure is a fairly common, but dangerous condition. If you have high blood pressure there is often no symptoms and the first sign of your blood pressure being high could be a heart attack or stroke. Testing is key for detection and reducing the risk of complications. It is important to know your blood pressure numbers in the same way you know your height and weight. By knowing your blood pressure from a young age, it is easier to spot when something is not quite right.

Around 3 in 10 adults in Somerset have high blood pressure but 1 in 10 do not know it as it often presents with no symptoms. It is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD) and significantly increases the risk of having a heart attack or stroke, – but early detection and treatment can help people live longer, healthier lives.

The Public Health Team have worked with the library service in Somerset to put in place a convenient, easy and free to access service – providing blood pressure monitoring kits that can be loaned from libraries across the county. The kits can be loaned for a fortnight allowing people to check their blood pressure, ‘at rest’, in their own home.

Anyone who then discovers that they do have high blood pressure can take their results to their GP or other appropriate health professional, who can advise on the best intervention. The dangers of high blood pressure can be easily mitigated with the right medications and lifestyle changes. The monitors can also be used by people who know they have diagnosed hypertension to check if their lifestyle changes and treatments are keeping their blood pressure in the normal range and provide an update for their GP.

In this section you will find information, guidance, and support on the following topics:

  • High blood pressure
  • How to reduce your blood pressure
  • Information and leaflets
  • Support from a health coach

All the information and advice found in this section is aimed at encouraging you to make improvements to your health and wellbeing.

High Blood Pressure

The British Heart Foundation have created an animation to help you understand what high blood pressure is and how it is caused. There is also information about how you can lower it available in a range of languages here.

If you have found out you have high blood pressure, try not to worry. Although this is not ideal, there are lots of other people coping fine and managing to reduce 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.

How to reduce your blood pressure

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

  • Eating more fruit and vegetables
  • Being more active
  • Eating less salt
  • Drinking less alcohol
  • Losing weight if you need to
  • Stop smoking
  • Cutting back on caffeine

You may need to look at medication and your GP can 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.

Support from a health coach

Health coaches can spend time with you discussing your health, wellbeing, and lifestyle. By listening to what matters most to you, they will help you to identify realistic goals and develop your confidence to be able to successfully manage your health and wellbeing on your own. To find out more about health coaches click here.

Last reviewed: January 18, 2024 by Kailani

Next review due: July 18, 2024

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