Manage your blood pressure

  1.  Why important to manage your high blood pressure? 

  2.  Six ways to manage blood pressure, halve your risk of heart diseases, help avoid strokes and later dementia. 

[Time to read: 7 mins]

1. Why important to manage blood pressure (BP)?

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 pressureHalf 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]. Often the person does 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 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].

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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].

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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 2.4, below.

2. Six ways to manage blood pressure, halve your risk of heart diseases, help avoid strokes and later dementia. 

2.1 If you think you are at risk, have a regular blood pressure test at your doctor/GP or pharmacy. Another good choice is to 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. Then use a mobile app to store your readings and present them in a useful way for you and your doctor/GP.

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

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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 professional heart health societies decided that people in this BP range have “stage 1 high blood pressure”.  They are almost twice as likely to get heart and stroke diseases compared with others with a normal BP (120/80 mm Hg or less) [35].  So, this means you need to take action to reduce your BP and talk with your doctor/GP.

fitness man running

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 suggests that treatment be offered to patients under the age of 80 years with a diagnosis of stage 1 high blood pressure if they have a 10 year heart and stroke diseases risk of 10% or more. This is in contrast to the 20% risk in previous NICE guidelines. However, unlike the new USA guidelines, NICE has maintained its definition of stage 1 high blood pressure as being over 140/90 mm Hg, unlike the USA that has reduced it to 130/80 or higher.

2.6 Actions pointing finger2So 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 18 March 2019.  © 2019 social enterprise Diabetes-cutmyrisks.co.uk.™ Ltd.

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