Let’s Talk…High Blood Pressure
Do you know if you have high blood pressure?
When we are feeling stressed, we sometimes think that our blood pressure has risen. While this may be so in some cases, in most cases a high Blood Pressure may be completely symptomless. High Blood Pressure, or Hypertension, is a serious Medical condition and should be treated. If left untreated it can have dire consequences, such as heart disease, strokes, kidney damage, and blindness to name just a few.
According to the latest statistics, 10.6% of Australians, or about 2.6 million people, have a high Blood Pressure.
What is High Blood Pressure?
High BP, or Hypertension happens when the force of the blood against the arterial walls is too high. Blood Pressure is measured in millimetres of Mercury, or mm Hg. The pressure of the blood during a heart beat is called the systolic pressure, and the pressure in between beats is the diastolic pressure. The Blood Pressure is considered to be high if it is more than 140/90 mmHg, and a pressure of 180/120 is considered severe.
Many people develop a high Blood Pressure as they age, because our blood vessels harden as we grow older. The most common type of high Blood Pressure is called Essential Hypertension or Primary Hypertension. It usually develops over the years as our body changes with age, and is contributed to by our lifestyle and by the environment. Secondary Hypertension is caused by some health problems, such as kidney disease, thyroid or other hormonal problems, sleep apnoea, obesity, and some medicines.
What are the signs and symptoms of High Blood Pressure?
Things to look out for include:
- Shortness of breath
- Nose bleeds
- Fainting episodes
- Blurred or double vision
- Heart palpitations
- Excessive sweating
- Nausea and vomiting
There can be other causes for these symptoms, and they often occur when the Blood Pressure has been high for a considerable time, which is why it is so important to see your GP on a regular basis and have your blood pressure checked from time to time.
How to reduce your risk of getting High Blood Pressure
Get more exercise – going for a walk around your neighbourhood for at least 30 minutes, preferably daily, can help dramatically.
Try to lose weight if obese or overweight.
Quit Smoking – your GP can help with this.
Reduce your salt, sugar and saturated fat intake. Changing your snack preferences,
going for the less sugar option and easy diet changes can make a big difference.
Including more whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low fat dairy are a good starting point.
Reduce your caffeine intake – not more than 2 or 3 cups of coffee in any one day.
Drink water instead of sugary soft drinks.
Stress Less… easier said than done, we know. This isn’t all about sitting and meditating, although that has great benefits, but taking time out to relax is very important. Reading a book, doing some stretching or just simply taking a bath can be a good de-stressor.
The first step is to make an appointment with your GP. Your GP will talk with you about symptoms, lifestyle choices and any possible suggestions to help. Regular check ups can mean your blood pressure is monitored.
Important things to tell your GP are:
- Any symptoms: how long and how severe
- How this is affecting you physically
- Any family history of high Blood Pressure, stroke, heart disease, diabetes, thyroid problems, or kidney disease.
Managing High BP
What can be done to manage High BP?
Lifestyle choices make a huge difference to your health, and a few little changes here and there can reduce your risk considerably.
Medication, speak with your GP.
Surgery, often a last resort, and usually a recourse after an incident because of your high blood pressure.
If you think you have any of the symptoms of high blood pressure, don’t ignore them. This is your health, and your health has a direct impact on the ones around you – your family and friends, the ones you love.
You’re not alone in this and help is at hand to get you through.
Make an appointment with one of our supportive and experienced doctors and take those steps to a happier, healthier you.
Book online at Bookings | Active Medical (activemedicalcentre.com.au) or call 03 9363 0954.
For more information, see the Heart Foundation at www.heartfoundation.org.au