Did you know that high blood pressure affects more than 1 in 4 adults in the UK and is the second largest single risk factor for premature death and disability in the country (according to the latest Government statistics)?
High blood pressure was responsible for approximately 19% of the world’s deaths in 2015 and 20% of the world population in 2017 according to the latest Global Burden of Disease Report. High blood pressure known as “The Silent Killer” is often undiagnosed due to a lack of obvious symptoms.
Understanding High Blood Pressure
To understand the severity of high blood pressure, we first need to understand the circulatory system and how it works.
The Circulatory System
The circulatory system is your body’s heart, lungs and network of blood vessels.
It works in the following way.
· Transportation of oxygen, nutrients, hormones, carbon dioxide and waste products to and from specific tissues around the body.
· Protects against pathogens.
· Cooling the body by allowing heat transfer out of the body.
Blood is transported around the body by the heart. Each time the heart pumps it contracts and relaxes pushing blood around the body.
What Is Blood Pressure?
When our heart beats it pushes blood through the arteries. As our heart contracts, our blood is forced along the vessels and causes an increase in the pressure that pushes against the blood vessel walls.
If your heart was to rest and not pump there would be a certain amount of blood within your blood vessels. That volume of blood would be exerting a certain amount of pressure on the walls of your arteries and veins.
Blood pressure is measured in millimetres of mercury (MmHg) and is given as two figures.
These 2 different pressures make up our blood pressure reading and are known as Systolic pressure (maximum pressure during one heartbeat) over Diastolic pressure (minimum pressure between two heartbeats) in the cardiac cycle.
Systolic pressure is when the heart pumps and pushes the blood into the body. This is always the highest pressure because the force is at its highest.
Diastolic pressure is the pressure in the arteries when the heart relaxes between beats and refills with blood. This is always the lowest pressure because there is no additional force being applied from the heart.
When blood pressure is taken it should read as Big Number over Small Number.
An example (also the optimal reading) would be 120/80 MmHg or 120 over 80.
Know Your Numbers!
Low blood pressure would be less than 90/60 MmHg. Normal blood pressure range would be between 90-120/60-80 MmHg. Pre high blood pressure range would be 120-140/80-90 MmHg High blood pressure is anything over 140/90 MmHg
Why Is High Blood Pressure So Bad?
Your arteries are designed to withstand normal pressure exerted when the heart contracts. If the pressure becomes too high it can lead to damage of the walls of the arteries.
The body repairs this damage by depositing substances such as cholesterol, fat, calcium, and collagen to patch up the problem. This leads to a build-up of a fatty plaque which eventually causes narrowing of the blood vessels.
Narrowing of the blood vessels leads to reduced blood flow downstream and eventually to cell death. If this process happens in the heart it causes heart attacks.
It is also possible that the high pressure within the arteries can cause rupture of the vessel walls. This can happen in the brain’s arteries which can also lead to the onset of a stroke.
Consistent high blood pressure also puts strain on the blood vessels in your kidneys which can lead to kidney damage and ultimately kidney failure.
What Should You Do?
Check Your Blood Pressure
The first thing you can do is get your blood pressure checked. You can do this via your GP, or you can buy a home blood pressure monitor and check your blood pressure at home.
Improve Your Lifestyle
If you have high blood pressure it can be lowered naturally through diet, exercise, and other lifestyle modifications. Ideally you would want to stop smoking and drinking and lose weight.
If you are not currently exercising you should begin adding cardiovascular exercise to your week. Brisk walking, cycling, swimming, or dancing are all great ways to include a cardio workout. Ideally you should be doing a minimum of 150 minutes a week (according to the NHS guidelines).
If you are eating processed foods switching to more natural and healthier unprocessed foods can also help.
If your blood pressure is high you may need to begin taking medication prescribed by your doctor to help lower your blood pressure.
Lastly if you are feeling any form of stress find a way to help yourself unwind and relax.
You can try things like, listening to relaxing music, meditation, yoga or simply just doing breathing exercises.
Do You Need Help?
Are you worried about your blood pressure?
Would you like to improve your diet or lifestyle and prevent high blood pressure?
We can help you with this.
At Better-Bodies we have all the resources you need to help you improve your diet, fitness and lifestyle.
Simply email us at email@example.com