Over the past month we have been completing our body MOT testing which as part of it includes having a blood pressure check. We have been asked by many people about what is a normal blood pressure level and what it means and wanted to explain a little more about it to everyone.

Blood pressure is the pressure in the circulatory system i.e. the heart and blood vessels is supplies around the body. I have just had my blood pressure taken and you can see the numbers on the screen.

(PIC):

The first, or top, number is called the systolic number. That's the pressure inside your arteries when your heart beats. The bottom, or diastolic, number is the pressure between beats.

An optimal blood pressure level is 120/80mmHg or lower, and high blood pressure is 140/90 mmHg or higher, whatever your age. Keeping your blood pressure closer the optimal levels is important because the higher your blood pressure is, the higher your risk of health problems in the future.

If your blood pressure is high, it is putting extra strain on your arteries and on your heart! This may ultimately lead to conditions such as a heart attack or stroke. The lower your blood pressure the lower your risk of heart attack, heart failure, stroke and kidney disease will be.

What causes high blood pressure?

Your blood pressure can also be temporarily affected by many factors. Overuse of stimulating drinks such as tea, coffee and alcohol can cause sudden increase in the blood pressure in a short period. Increased weight, pain and hormonal imbalance can also be attributed to sudden increase in the blood pressure.

In about 1 in 20 cases, high blood pressure occurs as the result of an underlying condition or medication. Other factors that can raise the risk of having essential hypertension include obesity; diabetes; stress; insufficient intake of potassium, calcium, and magnesium; lack of physical activity; and long-term alcohol consumption

If you are concerned about your blood pressure, ensure you get this checked. If you are concerned about your blood pressure, please check with your GP.

There are many lifestyle factors that affect your blood pressure and as a result you can influence and lower your blood pressure in a variety of ways:
1. Walk and exercise regularly. Exercise is one of the best things you can do to lower high blood pressure.
2. Reduce your sodium intake. Salt intake is high around the world.
3. Drink less alcohol.
4. Eat more potassium-rich foods.
5. Cut back on caffeine.
6. Learn to manage stress.
7. Keep your weight under control

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