Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is not something to be blasé about. In fact, the sooner you act, the sooner you can be back on the right track to better health.
Seventy-one percent of Australians with a blood pressure of 140/90 mmHg do not know they have hypertension. And, those who do know, may not know why. Understanding and being aware of your blood pressure, as well as getting regular checks, can make all the difference.
What is your blood pressure?
A lack of understanding surrounding blood pressure readings can mean people don’t take those readings as seriously as they should. The truth is, having hypertension is the most significant risk factor for cardiovascular disease – the world’s biggest killer. As a result, it’s crucial to take note of your readings and listen to your doctor’s advice. Unfortunately, more than 30 percent of Australians 18 years and older have high blood pressure.
To get your blood pressure reading, your doctor uses a cuff to establish the pressure of the heart pushing the blood through your arteries (the higher number, systolic), and the relaxed rate (lower number, diastolic). If your readings are higher than 140/90 on three occasions, you have high blood pressure.
Why is your blood pressure high?
Many things can cause high blood pressure or hypertension, but the leading cause is a poor lifestyle. If you don’t exercise, or if you smoke, are overweight, drink a lot, eat a poor diet or have a family history of high blood pressure, you are more at risk. However, in some cases, hormonal and other conditions can be to blame.
How to lower your blood pressure?
The first course of action is to see your doctor. Once you know you have high blood pressure, it’s crucial to get regular checks.
You then need to make some lifestyle changes. Exercise more, make healthier food choices, lose weight, stop smoking, and reduce your alcohol intake.
Your doctor may also prescribe medication which can be a temporary solution while you make lifestyle changes or a permanent solution. It may also take time to find the correct dose and medication to help.
Even if you feel no symptoms, which people rarely do, it’s crucial to see your doctor for blood pressure checks at least once every two years. If you are suffering from headaches or dizziness, make an appointment to see your GP immediately.