• Ona Croft Nurse

Why is it important to know my blood pressure anyway?

An ideal blood pressure (BP) reading is around or below 120/80 but for most people, the top number (the systolic pressure) can range from 90mmHg to 140mmHg and still be considered within the "normal" range.

When the reading ventures above 140/90, it may be cause for concern and your healthcare provider may start to consider hypertension (a.k.a high blood pressure) as a potential issue, especially if your BP has measured high on numerous occasions.

In many cases, a borderline/slightly high BP will go unnoticed for a long time, and will only be identified during an impromptu check by which time there may have already been irreversible damage sustained to your circulatory system. This is why it's important to take an interest in your BP, because it could be high, putting your health at risk, and you may not even know it. A high BP left untreated can put you at risk of heart disease and stroke, which are both serious conditions that can be life-threatening. Worryingly, according to Blood Pressure UK 6 million people in the UK are unaware they have high blood pressure - could you be one of them?

In short, yes you could. Contrary to popular belief, high blood pressure isn't a condition that affects only people living in larger bodies. In fact, it can affect anyone, regardless of weight or body size, and can be affected by numerous factors including genetics, age, stress levels, other health conditions, medications, diet and other lifestyle choices.

Am I suggesting you rush to book an appointment to have your blood pressure checked, or immediately order a BP machine online? No. Absolutely not. But I am suggesting that this should be on your radar, and the next time there's an opportunity to have your blood pressure checked, you should a. take up the offer and b. pay attention to the reading!

You can have your blood pressure checked at your GP practice, or at many pharmacies and gyms, so bear that in mind the next time you're in one of those places, and think about asking if anyone can check your blood pressure for you. It takes minutes. You may even know someone who has a blood pressure monitoring machine at home that you could borrow, and Blood Pressure UK encourage home BP monitoring as part of their Know Your Numbers campaign.

For more information about what the numbers mean, check out the Blood Pressure UK and the NHS websites.

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