Approximately 16 million people in the UK have high blood pressure, and every year 125,000 adults suffer a heart attack or stroke as a result. Today marks the first day of the UK’s biggest blood pressure testing and awareness week, ‘Know Your Numbers!’ 2018 (10th – 16th September). The campaign by Blood Pressure UK encourages adults across the UK to get checked and remember their blood pressure numbers in the same way they know their height and weight, enabling them to monitor and improve their readings.
The awareness campaign started in 2001 and has helped more than 1.5 million people get their blood pressure checked for free via hundreds of ‘Pressure Stations’ set up around the UK every year.
The fact that high blood pressure often has no symptoms increases the importance of getting regular checks, as 7 million people in the UK are living with undiagnosed high blood pressure without knowing they are at risk. If blood pressure numbers are consistently high over a number of weeks (140 over 90 or higher) it significantly increases the risk of cardiovascular disease.
How can I reduce my blood pressure?
Following these four tips can help to reduce blood pressure, or help to control it if you’ve already been diagnosed with high blood pressure:
1. Take regular exercise – Taking daily exercise lowers blood pressure by keeping your heart and arteries healthy. Set realistic goals and try to do a minimum of around 20 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise every day.
2. Maintain a healthy balanced diet – Diet can be a very important factor in impacting blood pressure. Having a balanced diet means choosing from all five of the recommended food groups in the right proportions. For guidance on recommended diet proportions, use the Eatwell plate guide.
3. Cut down on salt – Cutting down on salt is also important in keeping your heart healthy and preventing cardiovascular disease. Adults should have no more than 6g of salt per day (around one teaspoon). This includes the salt in the food you buy, as well as the amount of salt you add to your food.
4. Limit alcohol intake – Drinking more than the recommended amount of alcohol (14 units per week) can be harmful for your health and increase blood pressure. If you do drink as much as 14 units per week, it is best to spread this evenly over three days or more.
Take part in ‘Know Your Numbers!’ Week and get your blood pressure tested for free at your nearest Pressure Station, which can be found here.
Health Shield’s workplace Health Screening Programme supports employers with looking after long-term employee health and wellbeing, enabling a healthy, productive workforce. Alternatively, members with access to the mywellness section of the Members’ Area can get diet and exercise guidance, supporting them to reduce the risk of high blood pressure.