If your blood pressure is too high, it can put extra strain on your blood vessels, tissues and organs. If left unchecked, it can increase your risk of more serious problems, such as:
It’s thought as many as 7 million people have undiagnosed high blood pressure in the UK.
High blood pressure usually has no signs or symptoms. The only way to know if you have high blood pressure is to have blood pressure tests. It’s recommended that you have your blood pressure monitored if you:
Your doctor will use a blood pressure machine called a sphygmomanometer to measure the amount of pressure in your blood vessels when your blood pumps. A cuff is placed around your arm and inflated to restrict your blood flow. The pressure in the cuff is then slowly released while a stethoscope or digital device detects your pulse. The device takes two pressure readings, measured in mmHg:
A systolic pressure of 130mmHg and a diastolic pressure of 90mmHg gives you a reading of “130 over 90” or 130/90mmHg.
Having only one test showing high blood pressure doesn’t mean you have consistently high blood pressure. Your doctor will take readings over a period of time to make a diagnosis.
It’s not always known what causes high blood pressure, but it can be due to lifestyle factors such as:
You’re also more likely to have high blood pressure if you:
Your doctor will discuss how to lower your blood pressure, such as:
They may also prescribe medication to lower your blood pressure. Common types of medications include: