Everything you need to know about high blood pressure

What are the health risks of high blood pressure?

It’s one of the first things a doctor checks when it comes to stress, cardiovascular diseases or kidney problems: your blood pressure. More than 25 per cent of the people in the UK has high blood pressure. In most cases, a minor lifestyle change can already make enough of a difference to lower someone’s blood pressure. In other cases, medicines might be necessary. But what does your blood pressure do exactly? And how dangerous is it when it is too high? We’ll tell you everything you need to know.

High blood pressure can lead to big health problems.

Systolic and diastolic pressure

Your heart pumps your blood into your arteries with some force. This causes pressure on your blood vessels and this is your blood pressure. A doctor always measures both the systolic and diastolic pressure. The first (higher) number signifies the systolic pressure, which is the force at which your heart pumps your blood around your body. The second (lower) number tells you the diastolic pressure. This is the pressure that arises when your heart relaxes.

High blood pressure

“On average, your blood pressure is around 120/60, but this can increase when you’re exercising or tense, for example,” doctor Edwin de Vaal explains to Nu.nl. “When someone’s systolic pressure is above 140, we’re talking about high blood pressure. When this remains like this for an extended period of time, your blood vessels wear. This doesn’t cause health issues immediately, but it can cause an increased risk in the future.” In most cases, people find out their blood pressure is high by accident, when they visit the doctor for something unrelated. When at that moment the systolic pressure turns out to be too high, the blood pressure is measured again a few weeks later. This is because a single check is a snapshot and might be not entirely accurate. Someone could’ve been angry, scared or stressed at that moment.

Go to the next page to read more about high blood pressure and the health risks connected to it.

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