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Why Your Blood Pressure Matters

05th, Sep 2022

From the 5th - 11th September is Know Your Numbers! Week so to help raise awareness for this very important topic we spoke to Dr Roger Brown, Lead Private GP at Kingsbridge North West and Dr Blathnaid Carlin, Private GP at Kingsbridge Belfast around the importance of having your blood pressure checked. They also offer their advice on how to maintain good blood pressure levels and what we can do to lower high blood pressure.

What do blood pressure numbers mean?

"Blood pressure (BP) is the pressure of circulating blood on the walls of arteries in our bodies. Healthcare providers use BP readings to help evaluate the health of your heart and blood vessels in your body. High blood pressure (hypertension) can put a strain on your arteries and organs, which can increase your risk of developing serious problems such as heart attacks and strokes.

BP is measured as a systolic pressure (the top number) and a diastolic pressure (the bottom number). The top number, systolic blood pressure, measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats. The bottom number, called diastolic blood pressure, measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart rests between beats." - Dr Carlin

The four blood pressure categories are:

  • Normal blood pressure: Lower than 120/80 mmHg
  • Elevated blood pressure: Between 120-129/80 mmHg
  • High blood pressure, stage 1: Between 130-139/80-90 mmHg
  • High blood pressure, stage 2: 140/90 mmHg or higher

"The numbers should be less than 150 (systolic)/90 (diastolic) and if it is consistently higher than this should be treated." - Dr Brown

How does blood pressure affect our health?

“High Blood pressure has often been described as a silent killer. Blood pressure running high all day every day or even having significant peaks every day eventually causes problems with the pump (the heart) or the pipes (the arteries and veins in the circulation) or where in the circulation (stroke affecting the brain or problems like aneurysms).

So blood pressure is a potentially serious issue that we as Doctors do worry about. The Hypertension advisor to the Scottish government for many years was Professor Gordon McInnes. His mantra was that he didn’t care how many blood pressure tablets it took to get someone’s blood pressure down, just get it down! He had seen so many complications of blood pressure in his career that he preached the importance of treating blood pressure aggressively to GPs and hospital doctors.” - Dr Brown

“If your blood pressure is too high or too low then our bodies cannot function to the best of its ability and our health can be impacted. If our blood pressure is too low we can feel tired and fatigued, we have poor concentration, we can feel nausea and dizziness or light-headedness. If your blood pressure is too high we can experience, severe headaches, shortness of breath, nosebleeds, palpitations, chest pains. If you blood pressure is too high over a prolonged period of time it places stress on the arteries and can lead to heart, brain, and kidney damage and damage to our vision.” - Dr Carlin

How can we maintain / lower high blood pressure?

There are many steps you can take to maintain your blood pressure within a normal range without taking medication, including:

  • Exercise regularly
  • Eat a well-rounded diet
  • Quit smoking
  • Limit consumption of alcohol-maximum 14 units per week
  • Get your cholesterol down (if it is high) with a low fat diet
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Find healthy ways to manage stress
  • Take time to relax

In some cases, medications may be necessary, and your GP will be able to advise this.

When should we start having our blood pressure checked?

"If you are over 50, or over 35 and overweight please consider getting a BP check. If you don’t have it checked you don’t know if it is high or not. Your local community pharmacy will now do this for you or the practice nurse or GP at your NHS surgery, or why not have it done here in Kingsbridge. Don’t delay!" - Dr Brown

Get in touch!

If you have a concern and would like to speak to one of our GP’s please text BOOKNOW to 66777 and our enquiry team will be in touch to book you in for an appointment.

To book an appointment with our GP service in Sligo, please contact medicentre@kingsbridgehealthcaregroup.com

If you want to make some lifestyle changes and live a happier life, why not get in touch with our Belfast BUPA Team at Kingsbridge Private Hospital. Our health advisors and doctors can support you in making positive and sustainable life changes to keep your heart healthy and avoid health problems in the future.

Alternatively, you can find out more about our Private GP service available at Kingsbridge Belfast, Sligo and North West at kingsbridgeprivatehospital.com

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