Blood pressure – high, low, what’s good and what’s bad

Blood pressure is one of those things that pretty much every one of us has to be concerned about at one point or another during our lives. Especially as we get older we must keep a watchful eye on our blood pressure – and of course the blood pressure of our loved ones are they too get older. If blood pressure is allowed to become either dangerously high or dangerously low, this can have serious health implications. One of the most commonly associated is heart disease and other circulatory diseases.

According to the British Heart Foundation, there could well be around 5 million people in the United Kingdom who don’t know they have high blood pressure, walking around totally oblivious to the fact. Bear in mind that there are only 63 million or so people in the United Kingdom, which means that around 12% of its population have high blood pressure and don’t know it.

There is no other way to ascertain whether your blood pressure is high or low than simply going out and having it tested – so we would recommend that everyone (especially those in middle age or older) should do just that. There are no home tests or clever little-known methods of testing your blood pressure – you need to have it measured properly.

High blood pressure is also referred to as hypertension, and as you might be able to guess, if you have it, there is too much pressure trying to get blood pumped around your body. Of course, you do need to have a certain amount of pressure, in order to properly pump blood around your body, and low blood pressure can therefore be dangerous as well.

High blood pressure

If you have high blood pressure, your chances of having a heart attack or a stroke are much higher as well. So what causes high blood pressure? There are actually a number of causes, some of which are more controllable than others:

Having a family history of high blood pressure

This, of course, is the one which is least controllable, as it’s not caused by anything that you do (or don’t do) or consume. The best thing to do in this instance is to simply keep a very close eye on your blood pressure, and consult your doctor with any of your concerns.

Taking in too much salt

We’re all aware that salt enhances the taste of things – it can really make all the difference between whether or not a dish tastes good or not. However, it simply isn’t worth having too much salt in your diet. Some of us automatically put salt on food before we’ve even tried it! Instead, you should try to use salt more sporadically, and only when necessary.

Drinking too much alcohol

Drinking a little alcohol is absolutely fine – in fact we’ve probably all heard how having a few glasses of red wine every week can in fact be beneficial to our health. However, as with many things when taken in excess, alcohol can have adverse effects. One of these is raising your blood pressure, so you should always try to take alcohol in moderation where possible, and perhaps leave the binge-drinking for special occasions such as birthdays and New Year!

Not enough exercise

Not only is regular exercise good for our physiques, in that it helps to keep us trim and encourages fat-burning, but it also improves our bodies in a variety of ways which are unseen to us. Moderating your blood pressure is certainly one of them, as is stimulating your mind and improving your overall sense of well-being.

Being overweight

Of course, being obese is something which is controllable for some of others, but not so easy for others. When you are naturally a bigger person, you should keep an extra careful eye on your blood pressure, as obesity and high blood pressure unfortunately go hand in hand.

Low blood pressure

Whilst high blood pressure is referred to as ‘hypertension’, low blood pressure is referred to as ‘hypotension’. As you have probably guessed by now, it means that your blood pressure is low, but to an abnormal and potentially dangerous degree. If you have a naturally fairly low blood pressure, you are unlikely to suffer any major problems, but if it drops to a concerningly low level, it could result in not enough blood flow to your vital organs – and your brain. For this reason, it’s always advisable to keep as close an eye on low blood pressure as you would high blood pressure. Here are some of the common causes of low blood pressure:

Dehydration

It should be noted that a spell of dehydration does not automatically mean that you will have low blood pressure, but if you are regularly dehydrated you could find your blood pressure dropping as a result. Drinking between two and three litres of fluid (preferably water) every day can help to ensure that you not only stay hydrated, but also help to remove toxins from your body.

Stress

The more relaxed you are, the lower your blood pressure will be. Though it is obviously better to be somewhat relaxed than it is to be somewhat stressed, you should bear in mind that the more relaxed you are, the more open to dangerously low blood pressure you will be as a result.

Exercise

Regular exercise, as mentioned in the above section referring to high blood pressure, is good for regulating it. Healthy people tend to find that exercise raises their blood pressure, whilst resting afterwards returns it to its normal level, and in some cases makes it lower than usual.

Always keep an eye out

fruit - blood pressure

It is recommended, certainly as you get older, that you just stay diligent when it comes to your blood pressure. You should insist that it is checked regularly and make sure that this happens, as it’s simply not worth neglecting. Simply by eating well, drinking in moderation and looking after yourself, you will go a way towards ensuring that everything stays in order.

This blog post was written by Jennifer Smith, on behalf of TABlites, the electronic cigarette specialists.

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