Battling high blood pressure

High blood pressure, also called hypertension, is characterised by a diastolic blood pressure over 90 mmHg or systolic blood pressure consistently over 140 mmHg. Some people don’t experience any symptoms from high blood pressure, while others may have shortness of breath, heart palpitations, blurred vision, dizziness, repeated nosebleeds, or prolonged headaches.

Even if you don’t feel any of the above symptoms, high blood pressure puts you at risk for developing heart and blood vessel disease, and can lead to problems such as:

- Brain damage (such as stroke or dementia)
- Heart damage (such as heart attack or heart failure)
- Kidney damage
- Eye damage (blindness)

To keep an eye on your blood pressure, have your GP measure your pressure next time you visit. If you have normal blood pressure, an annual check is sufficient, but if it’s high, schedule frequent checks with your GP or invest in an at-home kit to test it yourself. 

High blood pressure often runs in the family, but lifestyle choices also play a significant role in the development of high blood pressure. You’re more like to develop high blood pressure if you:

- Have too much salt in your diet
- Have too much fat in your diet
- Are overweight
- Drink too much alcohol
- Don’t get enough exercise
- Smoke
- Are frequently stressed

Hypertension is also more likely for those who have medical conditions like diabetes, high cholesterol or sleep apnoea, or those who take certain medications (such as oral contraceptives).

To help prevent or control high blood pressure, it’s important to eat a healthy, balanced diet, limit or avoid highly salty or fatty foods, maintain a healthy body weight, and limit alcohol to no more than two standard drinks a day. 

It also helps to quit smoking, exercise at least 30 minutes most days a week, and practice relaxation techniques to manage stress. It might not sound like a lot of fun, but it’s worth doing to beat those high blood pressure symptoms.

While medicine cannot cure high blood pressure, it can help control the pressure and limit symptoms. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about which medications could work for you, as certain hypertension medications may interfere with other prescriptions you take. At Blakes, we offer free blood pressure testing, so if you’re unsure or just want  a check-up, stop past and have one of our staff assist you today.