What Is High Blood Pressure?

Assessing (calculating) your cardiovascular health risk

A risk factor calculator is often used by doctors and nurses to predict the health risk for an individual. A score is calculated which takes into account all your risk factors, such as age, sex, smoking status, blood pressure, blood cholesterol level, etc. If you want to know your score, download risk calculator in the sub-menu of “patient info”. If you are at risk of developing a cardiovascular disease within the next 10 years, then treatment is advised.Treatments may include:

  • A medicine to lower blood pressure if it is 140/90 mm Hg or higher.
  • A medicine to lower your cholesterol level.
  • A daily low dose of aspirin if you also have angina. This reduces the risk of blood clots forming in the blood vessels over patches of atheroma (which cause strokes and heart attacks).
  • Where relevant, to encourage you to tackle lifestyle risk factors such as smoking, lack of physical activity, diet, and weight.

Do I need any further tests?

If you are diagnosed as having high blood pressure then you are likely to be examined by your doctor and have some routine tests, which include:

  • Urine R/E:
  • Blood Test including Urea, Creatinine, Glucose random, Lipid profile, Sodium, Potassium, Liver function test, Hemoglobin, Thyroid stimulation Hormone (TSH):
  • A heart tracing, called an electrocardiogram (ECG).
  • Chest Xray
  • USG of Abdomen and pelvis, also may need Doppler study of renal artery
  • Fundus (Eye) Check up: to access the retinopathy

The purpose of the examination and tests is to:

  • Rule out (or diagnose) a secondary cause of high blood pressure, such as kidney disease.
  • To check to see if the high blood pressure has affected the heart.
  • To check for other risk factors such as a high cholesterol level or diabetes.

How can blood pressure be lowered?

There are two ways in which blood pressure can be lowered: Modifications to lifestyle (weight, exercise, diet, salt, caffeine and alcohol), if any of these can be improved upon and Medication. Lifestyle treatments to lower high blood pressure

Lose weight if you are overweight

Losing some excess weight can make a big difference. Blood pressure can fall by up to 2.5/1.5 mm Hg for each excess kilogram, which is lost. Losing excess weight has other health benefits too.

Regular physical activity

If possible, aim to do some physical activity on five or more days of the week, for at least 30 minutes. For example: brisk walking, swimming, cycling, dancing, etc. Regular physical activity can lower blood pressure in addition to giving other health benefits. If you previously did little physical activity, and change to doing regular physical activity five times a week, it can reduce systolic blood pressure by 2-10 mm Hg.

Eat a healthy diet

Briefly, this means:

  • AT LEAST five portions, and ideally 7-9 portions, of a variety of fruit and vegetables per day.
  • THE BULK OF MOST MEALS should be starch-based foods (such as cereals, wholegrain bread, potatoes, rice, pasta), plus fruit and vegetables.
  • NOT MUCH fatty food such as fatty meats, cheeses, full-cream milk, fried food, butter, etc. Use low-fat, mono-unsaturated or polyunsaturated spreads.
  • INCLUDE 2-3 portions of fish per week. At least one of which should be ‘oily’ such as herring, mackerel, sardines, kippers, pilchards, salmon, or fresh (not tinned) tuna.
  • If you eat meat it is best to EAT LEAN MEAT, or eat poultry such as chicken.
  • If you do fry, choose a VEGETABLE OIL such as sunflower, rapeseed or olive.
  • LIMIT SALT in your diet.

A healthy diet provides benefits in different ways. For example, it can lower cholesterol, help control your weight, and has plenty of vitamins, fibre, and other nutrients which help to prevent certain diseases. Some aspects of a healthy diet also directly affect blood pressure. For example, if you have a poor diet and change to a diet, which is low-fat, low-salt, and high in fruit and vegetables, it can lower systolic blood pressure by up to 11 mm Hg.

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