Being diagnosed with high blood pressure (hypertension) can be alarming and confusing. Most of the time, it doesn’t cause symptoms, so you might feel totally fine.

Hypertension should be taken seriously, especially where heart health is concerned. However, there are many ways you can manage it.

What is high blood pressure? 

Blood pressure relates to the force at which blood’s being pumped around your body. Measurements consist of two numbers – a higher one (systolic), which measures the force of blood being pumped from your heart, and a lower one (diastolic), which measures the resistance to blood flow within your blood vessels.

A normal range is generally between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg, and anything from 140/90mmHg upwards is considered high. It’s important to take note of readings between 120/80mmHg and 140/90mmHg too, as this could mean you’re at risk of developing hypertension.

Watch this video to learn more about what high blood pressure is and how it can affect your health.

Who does it affect? 

Anyone can get high blood pressure, but some are more at risk. This includes smokers, those aged 65 and over, overweight or obese, having an inactive lifestyle, poor diet (especially too much salt), and drinking too much alcohol. People of African or Caribbean descent also have a higher risk. Watch our video to learn more about the causes.

How exactly does high blood pressure affect the heart?

Hypertension puts extra strain on blood vessels and can affect the heart in a range of ways. It’s a known cause of coronary heart disease, heart failureheart attacks and stroke: in fact, it is thought to be responsible for more than half of all strokes and heart attacks.

The ‘silent killer’ 

It’s very rare for high blood pressure to cause symptoms, so it’s usually only detected once you have your blood pressure checked. This is why it’s described as a ‘silent killer’ and why routine checks are so important. According to Blood Pressure UK, it’s believed around 1 in 3 UK adults have hypertension but half are undiagnosed or not receiving treatment.

How is high blood pressure treated? 

Keeping it under control can massively reduce your risk of things like heart disease, so it’s important to treat it, even if you feel healthy. A number of medications can help, depending on how high it is and what’s most suitable for you.

What else can you do? 

Lifestyle also plays a big role in managing hypertension. Reducing excess salt from the diet is often a top priority, along with quitting smoking if you smoke and reducing alcohol intake. A healthy diet, as well as ensuring you get regular exercise – even just walking – and maintaining a healthy weight are also vital.

Keeping track of your blood pressure with a home monitoring kit will help you keep on top of things. If your readings aren’t improving or start increasing, ask our specialist for additional expert advice.

If you’re concerned about your heart health, make an appointment to see how London’s leading heart specialist, Dr Syed Ahsan, can help.