High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, has earned the ominous title of the “silent killer” due to its lack of symptoms. Thousands of people could be unknowingly living with this ticking timebomb, as the condition can lead to severe health problems, including heart attack, stroke, and heart failure.
According to the British Heart Foundation, more than a quarter of adults in the UK have high blood pressure, but many are unaware of their condition. This is because high blood pressure often shows no noticeable signs. Even if you feel fine, it is still important to have your blood pressure checked regularly.
It is recommended for healthy adults over 40 to have their blood pressure checked at least once every five years. However, individuals at an increased risk should seek annual check-ups. Some symptoms that may indicate high blood pressure include blurred vision, nosebleeds, shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, and headaches. Nevertheless, many individuals with high blood pressure display no symptoms at all.
Senior Cardiac Nurse Julie Ward emphasizes the importance of raising awareness about this silent killer. Here are six key points that everyone should know about high blood pressure:
1. It’s a silent killer: High blood pressure is often called the silent killer since it rarely presents noticeable signs or symptoms. This means that millions of people with high blood pressure may not even be aware of their condition.
2. You might not know about it until you have a heart attack or stroke: Sadly, the first indicators of high blood pressure for some individuals are heart attacks or strokes. The prolonged presence of high blood pressure can damage arteries and lead to coronary artery disease and stroke. Moreover, it can harm the heart muscle, causing heart failure.
3. Millions of individuals have high blood pressure: In the UK alone, over 14 million adults are affected by high blood pressure, and incredibly, approximately five million of them remain undiagnosed due to the lack of visible symptoms.
4. It’s all about the numbers: Blood pressure is measured using two numbers, systolic and diastolic. Systolic pressure is the first number and represents the highest pressure exerted when the heart contracts, while diastolic pressure is the second number and reflects the lowest pressure when the heart rests. Typically, a healthy blood pressure reading is lower than 140/90 mmHg.
5. Exercise reduces your risk: Engaging in regular physical activity can help lower the risk of high blood pressure. The World Health Organization recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week for optimal health.
6. Alcohol increases your risk: Excessive alcohol consumption can raise blood pressure levels. Other lifestyle factors, such as being overweight and not consuming enough fruits and vegetables, also increase the risk of developing high blood pressure.
Raising awareness about high blood pressure is crucial for identifying and managing the condition. Regular blood pressure check-ups, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and seeking medical advice can help prevent the potentially devastating consequences of this silent killer.
Source: The British Heart Foundation