Blood Pressure UK reveal how to lower your blood pressure this Know Your Numbers! week
Blood Pressure UK is asking adults of all ages to check their blood pressure regularly this Know Your Numbers! week and discusses some simple ways that high blood pressure can be prevented – such as reducing how much alcohol you drink.
High blood pressure is the biggest known cause of heart disease and stroke in the UK, both of which can cause serious illness, disability, and even premature death.
The good news is that there are some simple ways that high blood pressure can be prevented – such as reducing how much alcohol you drink.
Blood Pressure UK is asking all adults of all ages to make the time to ease their pressure this Know Your Numbers! week by checking their blood pressure regularly, as it is the only way to know if you have high blood pressure.
But first, what is blood pressure?
When your heart beats, it pumps blood around your body to give it the energy and oxygen it needs. As the blood moves, it pushes against the sides of your blood vessels. The strength of this pushing is your blood pressure.
- The pressure is at its highest when the heart beats. This is called the systolic pressure (top number when reading your blood pressure) and should be around 120 or less.
- The pressure is at its lowest when the heart relaxes (rests) in between beats. This is called the diastolic pressure (the bottom number when reading your blood pressure) and should be around 80 or less.
Blood pressure is therefore expressed as two numbers, systolic and diastolic and in ‘millimetres of mercury’ (mmHg) mmHG – for example. 120/80 mmHg or ‘120 over 80’. Find out more on Blood Pressure UK’s page, What do the numbers mean?
Blood pressure is usually not something you feel, that’s why it’s often referred to as the silent killer. The only way to know what your blood pressure is, is to have it measured so you know your numbers. If you find that your numbers are high, you can make small lifestyle changes that may have a big benefit – such as reducing how much alcohol you drink.
This is why Blood Pressure UK run their Know Your Numbers! week-long campaign every September (this year from 4th-10th September). It is the UK’s biggest blood pressure testing and awareness event, encouraging people to have their blood pressure measured via home blood pressure monitoring, at a pharmacy, or at their GP so they can take the steps needed to maintain a healthy blood pressure through steps like reducing their alcohol intake. In the long term, this also reduces people’s risk of debilitating strokes and heart attacks.
There are other aspects of your life you can think about when lowering your blood pressure, lowering your blood pressure by just 10mmHg lowers your risk of a stroke or heart attack by a fifth. This includes stopping smoking and ensuring you don’t eat too much salt. Tips don’t just mean cutting down in areas of your life. Potassium is a mineral that helps to lower your blood pressure, which you could try and have more of, and you should ensure you keep active.
To find out more tips on how to keep your blood pressure down through healthy eating and living, visit Blood Pressure UK’s webpage on How to lower your blood pressure.
Alcohol and blood pressure
Drinking too much alcohol will raise your blood pressure over time, and heavy drinking raises it further.
To keep health risks from alcohol low, you should drink no more than 14 units a week as stated by the government’s Chief Medical Officers, make sure you have several drink-free days, and never binge drink. For more information on what an alcohol unit is, read Drinkaware’s What is an alcohol unit webpage.
Keeping to this low-risk limit will help to keep your blood pressure down. Alcohol also contains many calories, which can make you gain weight and, in turn, will raise your blood pressure.
Using some simple tricks to cut down on alcohol will help to lower your blood pressure without having to cut it out altogether.
Blood Pressure UK’s tips for reducing your drinking
Start by working out how much you drink in the average week and see if it’s under 14 units by using Drinkaware’s tracking app, MyDrinkaware, which is free to download. Then follow these tips to help you have a good night out, or in, without having to worry about your blood pressure.
Even if you are drinking less than the recommended limit, you can still benefit from drinking a little less!
Here are some ideas to help you cut back:
- Try low-alcohol options: There are now many lower-strength beers and wines on the market.
- Choose bottles instead of pints if you’re drinking beer or cider: You can also choose small glasses instead of large ones if you’re drinking wine.
- Alternate with soft drinks: Drink a soft drink or a glass of water between alcoholic drinks.
- Avoid bar snacks like crisps and peanuts: The added salt will make you want to drink more and will raise your blood pressure.
- Have alcohol-free days: Spread your drinks throughout the week and have days off.
- Buy a measure: If you drink at home, use a measure so that you know how much you are drinking.
For further information on blood pressure and ways you can try and lower your blood pressure, visit Blood Pressure UK's website.
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