Nurses Corner - Don’t let the pressure get to you!
10 September 2019
This week here at Premex+ we are raising awareness of Blood Pressure awareness week. In support of ‘Know your Numbers!’ Blood Pressure UK’s flagship awareness campaign, we will look at what adults can do to reach and maintain a healthy blood pressure.
So what is your blood pressure?
Blood pressure is the force the blood exerts on the walls of the blood vessels as it’s pushed through the body by the heart. Its importance to health is now well-recognised, in that high blood pressure can lead to serious illnesses like strokes, heart disease and kidney disease. There is also an extreme form of high blood pressure that can happen to pregnant women and which can be fatal for both the mother and baby. So the best way we can detect high blood pressure early is to check.
The problem is that high blood pressure – called hypertension – isn’t easily recognised by physical means. There is no rash or swelling, and the person doesn’t complain of pain or discomfort; in fact many people just go about their daily business unaware that they have hypertension. For that reason, it has sometimes been called ‘the silent killer’.
The opposite of hypertension is low blood pressure, or hypotension. This generally isn’t a problem if it is the person’s natural state, but a sudden and unexplained hypotension could be very serious and must be reported immediately. Also, some people with hypotension feel dizzy or may even faint if they get to their feet too quickly, so must be taught to do so gradually.
What are the symptoms of high blood pressure?
High blood pressure rarely has noticeable symptoms, however the following can be symptoms may be an indication of that you have high blood pressure:
- Blurred vision
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
What causes high blood pressure?
In the UK, high blood pressure is the third biggest risk factor for disease after tobacco smoking and poor diet. The following things can help cause cases of high blood pressure:
- Drinking too much alcohol
- Being overweight
- Not undertaking any exercise
- Too much salt
In a very small number of people, the cause of high blood pressure can be identified. Doctors sometimes call this secondary hypertension. For example, an abnormal production of hormones from the adrenal glands can lead to high blood pressure. If your doctor gives you treatment for the hormonal condition, your blood pressure should then return to normal.
Other causes of secondary hypertension include:
- Kidney disease
- Some medicines, such as oral contraceptives and some over-the-counter and herbal medicines
What can happen if you have high blood pressure?
High blood pressure is the largest single known risk factor for cardiovascular disease and related disabilities.
High blood pressure increases the risk of:
- Heart failure
- Coronary artery disease
It can also increase the risk of chronic kidney disease, peripheral arterial disease, and vascular dementia.
Here at Premex+ we have seen a number of cases where blood pressure has had an awful effect on people’s lives. We have seen cases where delayed treatment or miss-diagnosis of high blood pressure has resulted in patients having serious and life altering strokes.
How to lower your blood pressure
Keeping your heart healthy is so important for so many reasons, and lowering your blood pressure is just one way to help do this. To lower your bloody pressure try:
- Eating less salt and more fruit and vegetables
- Reducing how much alcohol you drink
- Being more active
- Losing weight
Medications or treatments for high blood pressure
There are many medicines available for reducing blood pressure as well as. Your doctor will offer you medicines if your blood pressure is considered to be high and any of the following apply to you:
- If you have damage to the blood vessels in your heart, brain, kidneys or eyes
- If you have heart or circulatory disease, or you are at high risk of developing it
- If you have kidney disease
- If you have diabetes
Your doctor may also recommend that you take medicines to lower your blood pressure if your blood pressure is consistently very high, regardless of any other problems you may have.
Medicines used to treat high blood pressure
- ACE inhibitors
- Angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs)
- Calcium-channel blockers
- Alpha-blockers (Doxazocin)
Most people need to take more than one type of medicine to lower their blood pressure, and research suggests that taking two or more medicines often has a much better effect than taking just one. Getting the right medication and dosage of the medicine is extremely important as if this is incorrect it can exacerbate the negative side effects of having high-blood pressure.
With 1 in 4 people having high blood pressure and many of whom are unaware, it is essential to speak to your GP and monitor your blood pressure.