Manage your blood pressure, cut in half risk of heart diseases

  1.  Why important to manage your high blood pressure? 
  2.  Six ways to manage blood pressure, cut in half your risk of heart diseases, avoid strokes and later dementia. 

[Time to read: 7 mins]

1. Why important to manage your blood pressure?

Remember, 1 person in every 4 adults has high blood pressure (BP) [32].

Now a USA review of new research shows it can be as high as 1 in 3 people [37]. This can lead to heart diseases, strokes, dementia [43] and kidney diseases.

taking blood pressure
measure blood pressure at home

Half those who have high BP are not receiving any treatment [33], and another 1 in 3 patients are not taking their pills often enough [28]. The person may not feel or see any clear symptoms of high blood pressure, which is why it is called the “silent killer”. You have to use a blood pressure monitor to know if it is high.

If you have high BP, and manage to cut your systolic blood pressure (the higher figure) by 10 mm Hg, it almost cuts in half your chances of getting heart diseases and helps you avoid strokes [32] and later dementia [43].

image of small red heart

High blood pressure has been a reading of 140/90 mm Hg or higher. This means you must see your GP for treatment to bring it down, both lifestyle changes and possibly medication [NICE CG 127].

image of small red heart

Normal blood pressure is between 90/60 mm Hg and 120/80 mm Hg. What do you do if your readings are over 130/80, but under 140/90?  New 2017 USA guideline from the American Heart Association & American College of Cardiology says, after analysis of 1000 recent research studies, inc. SPRINT 2015 [37], “this is Stage 1 hypertension” (high blood pressure), and it needs action [35] – see para 2.4, below.

2. Six ways to manage your blood pressure, cut in half risk of heart diseases, avoid strokes and dementia. 

2.1 If you think you are at risk, have a regular GP blood pressure test. Or buy your own blood pressure monitor and measure it at home. This can be more accurate, as it is easier to rest there calmly for the 5 minutes needed before each measurement. Make sure you choose a BP monitor that is reliable and validated. Use a mobile app to store your readings and present them to your doctor.

2.2 The UK NHS says to reduce your blood pressure if it is high,  follow treatments your doctor recommends. And here are 12 extra ways to cut your blood pressure without drugs. Small changes improve your health [11, 18, 25].

2.10_Vegetables
healthy veg.

2.3 Improve your diet, more fruit and veg, more seafood, ‘omega-3’ fats, more nuts and seeds. Less salt and much less processed meats [31, 36]. Usually, eat less! With no second helpings.

2.4. If your blood pressure (BP) is over 130/80 but under 140/90 mm Hg, the new USA expert review by the American College of Cardiology and 9 other USA heart health groups decided that people in this BP range have “stage 1 high blood pressure”.  And are twice as likely to get heart and stroke diseases as those with a normal BP (120/80 mm Hg or less) [35].  So, take action to reduce your BP by talking with your doctor.

Only a few people will need prescriptions, as most of us could do it by lifestyle changes and “between appointments” monitoring of your blood pressure.

fitness man running
take regular exercise

2.5 Lifestyle changes are recommended. If the patient has high risks for heart and stroke diseases, medication may be recommended as well [35].

NHS NICE has reviewed its UK guide to take some account of the new USA findings on BP (2.4, above), and put out its redraft for consultation on 8 March 2019. The new draft recommends treatment for patients under the age of 80 with stage 1 high blood pressure if they have a 10-year heart and stroke diseases risk of 10% or more. However, unlike the new USA guidelines, NICE still defines stage 1 high blood pressure as being over 140/90 mm Hg, unlike the USA that has reduced it to ‘over 130/80′.

pointing finger2
actions?

2.6 Actions: So discuss this issue with your GP and say which BP target you prefer!

Also, see often asked questions on heart diseases and strokes, and trusted NHS answers. And put actions you decide in your personal health plan.

page updated 09 July 2019.  © 2019 social enterprise Diabetes-cutmyrisks.co.uk.™ Ltd.

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