World Hypertension Day – control your blood pressure

By June Shannon Heart News   |   17th May 2021

High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke

Today (Monday the 17th of May) is World Hypertension Day 2021 which aims to raise awareness of the dangers of high blood pressure.

The theme of World Hypertension Day this year is, “Measure Your Blood Pressure Accurately, Control it, Live Longer,” and the global day of awareness is organised by the World Hypertension League; a non-profit NGO dedicated to the prevention and control of hypertension globally to include awareness of non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

According to the WHL, “increasing hypertension awareness and early control has become even more crucial as managing hypertension reduces the risk of COVID-19 adverse events and mortality. The importance of the WHL mission is emphasised by the United Nations Global Health Summit on NCDs which agreed to nine health targets to be achieved by 2025. The UN health targets include a 25 per cent reduction in uncontrolled hypertension and a 30 per cent reduction in dietary salt.”

Hypertension or high blood pressure is the main risk factor for heart disease and stroke.  Left untreated it can cause you to have a heart attack or debilitating stroke, it can also increase your risk of developing dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease in later life. High blood pressure also increases the risk of kidney failure and heart failure as well as erectile dysfunction.

Unfortunately, high blood pressure does not have any symptoms and that is why it is important to get your blood pressure monitored regularly.

If you are over 30, you should have your blood pressure checked once a year by your family doctor or practice nurse.

If you are over 30, you should have your blood pressure checked once a year by your family doctor or practice nurse.

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A healthy blood pressure

Two numbers are used to measure the level of your blood pressure. One number records blood pressure when the pressure is at its highest i.e. as the heart muscle squeezes the blood out of your heart – this is called systolic pressure.

Then, the other number is when your heart relaxes i.e. allows the blood to flow back into the heart – this is called diastolic pressure.

The normal level of blood pressure is usually about 120 (systolic) over 80 (diastolic). If you have been told that your blood pressure is 140 over 90 or higher (or 140 over 80 if you have diabetes) you should discuss this with your family doctor.

Checking your blood pressure at home

If you suffer from high blood pressure and are thinking of purchasing a BP monitor to measure your blood pressure at home, it is important that you select the right device.

With so many different devices available it can be confusing to know which is the best home blood pressure monitor for you. The good news is that an international non-profit organization STRIDE-BP has been recently established with the mission to improve the accuracy of BP measurement and the diagnosis of high blood pressure.

Check out the link to their website here which provides a list of recommended and tested devices approved for home use.

Please remember that your home monitor will need to be re-calibrated every one to two years, please check the manufacturer guidelines for information on this.

High blood pressure does not have any symptoms and that is why it is important to get your blood pressure monitored regularly

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How to measure your blood pressure at home

A good time to check your blood pressure is first thing in the morning and then again in the evening about 12 hours later.

Avoid caffeine, exercise and smoking for at least 30 minutes before checking your BP

Sit comfortably for 5 minutes prior to checking your BP.

Sit with your back supported, legs uncrossed and feet flat on the floor.

Stay relaxed and avoid talking during the BP check. Relax your arm.

Remove any tight clothing on the upper arm, its best to have your arm bare.

Rest your arm on a table at the level of your heart with your palm upwards.

Place the cuff appropriately placed around your upper arm, 2cm’s above the bend in your arm.  Use the correct cuff size to obtain accurate results. The cuff should fit snugly but not tightly.

Press the on/off button on the machine

The cuff will tighten around your arm and then release. Wait for automatic deflation.

Make note of the reading, which arm and the time and date.

How to measure your blood pressure at home

Watch our video to see how to measure your blood pressure at home

Tips for a healthy Blood Pressure 

Know your blood pressure

Aim to be a healthy weight

Eat less salt and more fruit and vegetables

Drink less alcohol and stay within the recommended guidelines

Be physically active at moderate intensity 30 minutes a day 5 days a week

If you smoke, try to quit.

Always take blood pressure tablets as prescribed by your doctor

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Related Topics

blood pressure blood pressure monitors heart disease high blood pressure hypertension stroke

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