Blood Pressure

What is High Blood Pressure?

Blood pressure is the strength of the blood against the artery walls It rises and falls between heartbeats. It is measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg) There are always two pressures measured in blood pressure ranges, the systolic and the diastolic pressure Systolic and Diastolic.

Example: 120/80mmHg or 120 over 80 This is a healthy adult reading

  • Systolic – relates to the pressure of the blood when your heart beats.(120)
  • Diastolic - shows the pressure of the blood as your heart rests between beats (80)

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, it can affect at least 25% of adults in England alone. The pressure exerted to pump blood around the body is too high. If this happen it is likely to cause stress on the heart and arteries (blood vessels), which can lead to more serious conditions such as stroke, kidney disease and heart problems. The symptoms associated with hypertension can sometimes be hard to spot; a blood pressure check can be performed by your GP or pharmacist. However it is easy to test yourself from home.

Blood pressure kits are easy to use and affordable to buy, you can check your blood pressure as often as you would like any time of day or night. The risk of developing hypertension increases as we get older however Lifestyle choices can also strongly influence our risk of developing the condition Factors that increase risk include: Smoking, Being overweight, Lack of exercise, drinking too much alcohol or coffee or poor diet.

Treatment advice for High Blood Pressure

If you are healthy and older than 40, you should get your blood pressure checked every 5 years. If you are at risk of getting high blood pressure, you should get it checked annually

Low Blood pressure

blod pressure graph


Lifestyle changes

Below are some changes you could make to your lifestyle to reduce high blood pressure. Some of these will lower your blood pressure in a matter of weeks, while others may take longer.

These include:

  • cutting your salt intake to less than 6g (0.2oz) a day –
  • eating a low-fat, balanced diet – including plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables
  • being active –
  • cutting down on alcohol –
  • losing weight –
  • drinking less caffeine –
  • stopping smoking – get help quitting
  • getting at least six hours of sleep a night if you can

Medication for high blood pressure

Several medications can be used to help control high blood pressure. Many people need to take a combination of different medicines. The medication recommended for you at first will depend on your age and ethnicity:

ACE inhibitor

Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors reduce blood pressure by relaxing your blood vessels.

Enalapril Ramipril

Angiotensin-2 receptor blockers (ARBs)

ARBs work in a similar way to ACE inhibitors. They're often recommended if ACE inhibitors cause troublesome side effects.



Sometimes known as water pills, diuretics work by flushing excess water and salt from the body through urine. They're often used if calcium channel blockers cause troublesome side effects.


Calcium channel blockers

if you're aged 55 or older, or you're any age and of African or Caribbean origin – you'll usually be offered a calcium channel blocker Calcium channel blockers reduce blood pressure by widening your blood vessels.

amlodipine, felodipine


Beta-blockers can reduce blood pressure by making your heart beat more slowly and with less force. They used to be a popular treatment for high blood pressure, but now only tend to be used when other treatments haven't worked. This is because beta-blockers are considered less effective than other blood pressure medications.


  • Medications used to treat high blood pressure can have side effects, but most people don't experience any. If you do, changing medication will often help.
  • It's really important to take your medications as directed. If you miss doses, it won't work as effectively. The medication won't necessarily make you feel any different, but this doesn't mean it's not working.
  • You may need to take blood pressure medication for the rest of your life. But your doctor might be able to reduce or stop your treatment if your blood pressure stays under control for several years.
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