The past few weeks I have had many patients who had no idea their blood pressure was high. None of them smoke, drink heavily, nor were they over weight. The only common denominator was stress. Even more tragically a young patient was struck by a stroke out of the blue. There was absolutely nothing about his lifestyle that could have caused it. These events have prompted me to write about the importance of keeping an eye on blood pressure and knowing the signs. One day you might save a loved one or even yourself by knowing them.
High blood pressure is medically known as hypertension. It rarely has noticeable symptoms. Understanding risk factors can help as well as taking your blood pressure often (NHS guidelines are at least every 5 years) if it's something that's on your mind then you can always ask your osteopath or physiotherapist to check it if you dont have time to go to a nurse or doctor (you should always have time to do this but it's a line I hear from many of my patients!) better still buy a blood pressure monitor!
The main risk factors to be aware of are:
* Being overweight
* Someone in your family has a history of high blood pressure.
* Constant high levels of stress and anxiety.
* Lack of excercise (you should do something that gets you out breath for at least 20 mins a day!)
* Drinking too much alcohol
* Drinking too many caffeinated drinks such as coffee or energy drinks.
* You are aged 65 or over
* You have a high salt diet.
Most of us know this and most of us could admit that we do fall into at least one of the above categories.... Even me! Yet we do nothing because we are young, or feel fine, or think it is the kind of thing that won't happen to you.
Listen to this programme By Robert McCrum on BBC Radio 4 then read that list again. Perhaps I shan't have that glass of wine tonight after all....