High blood pressure

High blood pressure is a common problem in Ireland with over 50% of adults thought to be affected.  High blood pressure can be a risk factor for heart disease and stroke so it is important to have your blood pressure regularly checked as many people have high blood pressure without realising it.

 

What is high blood pressure?

Your heart is basically a pump that moves blood around your body. As long as your body is healthy, this happens normally and without any problems. However, in some people, their heart finds it difficult to move their blood around and it has to work harder to force blood through their veins and arteries. Increasing the amount of force the heart uses to push blood means the blood is under more pressure. Your doctor can measure your level of blood pressure by listening to how hard your heart is working.

 

What is a healthy level of blood pressure?

Healthy blood pressure is 120/80.  Blood pressure that is more than 140/90 is considered to be high.

 

What can cause high blood pressure?

High blood pressure can be caused by lots of different things.  It is more common in people who are overweight or who do very little exercise.  Eating too much sodium from salt can affect blood pressure as well as too much alcohol.

 

What can I do to keep blood pressure healthy?

  • First, get your blood pressure checked! If you are over 30, doctors recommend that you have your blood pressure checked every 2-3 years.
  • Reducing salt is very important.  We should keep salt to less than 6g per day – Irish men eat about 11g of salt per day!  Try reducing the amount of salt you add to food during cooking and at the table.  Cut back on salty foods like ham, bacon and salty snacks like crisps. Read the labels on processed foods – these can contain a lot of salt.  If you check the labels, you can choose one with the lowest amount of salt.

 

Did you know?

Sea salt contains just as much sodium as normal salt.Many people think that sea salt is healthier but switching from ordinary salt to sea salt won’t make any difference to your blood pressure – you need to cut back on all salt to make a difference.

  • Potassium can help to keep blood pressure healthy. Vegetables are a good source of potassium especially green vegetables, tomatoes and potatoes.You will also find potassium in dried fruit and oil-rich fish.
  • Getting to a healthy weight can help to keep blood pressure healthy and regular cardiovascular exercise can also help.
  • Add some omega-3s.The omega-3s EPA and DHA (found in oil-rich fish) can help to keep blood pressure levels healthy.  Try to have oil-rich like salmon, trout or mackerel at least once a week.