We hear a lot about blood pressure but the bottom line is high blood pressure can put your health at risk. Good blood pressure level should be below 120 over 80 (120/80), which means a systolic pressure of 120 mmHg and a diastolic pressure of 80 mmHg. Ideal pressure is considered to be between 90/60mmHg and120/80mmHg resulting in a much lower risk of heart disease or stroke. Most UK adults have readings from 120 over 80 (120/80) to 140 over 90 (140/90). The higher the blood pressure, the higher the risk of health problems. So with blood pressure level of 135 over 85 (135/85) a person is twice as likely to have a heart attack or stroke as someone with a level of 115 over 75 (115/75). Take action now to bring it down or stop it rising higher, by adopting a healthy lifestyle, don’t wait until you have high blood pressure to make changes!
Blood pressure levels can rise when we are anxious, stressed, angry, frightened or generally overdoing things. Taking exercise, learning to meditate, taking up an activity or hobby can help calm us down. But importantly we need to watch our diet. Too much salt can raise blood pressure, not only the salt you might add to your food, but what’s in prepared foods, ready meals, bread and breakfast cereals. So check labels and choose low-salt options, and do not add salt to your cooking or at the table. Simple adjustments may make blood pressure medicines prescribed by your GP avoidable. A healthy diet will keep your weight in check, lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of health problems. So eat more low-calorie and low fat foods. Also try to fit in 30 minutes of an activity you enjoy doing five times a week, it will help lower blood pressure and keep your heart healthy. Any activity that leaves you feeling warm and slightly out of breath, such as simple brisk walking is ideal, and even a small amount of activity is beneficial.
Try eating the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables every day – a portion is 80 grams. Dried, frozen and tinned count, but look out for added sugar, fats and salt. Excess alcohol can raise your blood pressure, so stick to the recommended limit of 14 units a week. A unit is half a pint of beer or cider, a small glass of wine or a single pub measure of spirits.