Wednesday, 6 Jul 2022

High blood pressure symptoms: Are you experiencing headaches? Signs of high levels

Dr Chris Steele shares diet tips on reducing blood pressure

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High blood pressure often has no symptoms, and many people who have high blood pressure do not know it, according to the NHS. Nonetheless, there may be some signs. As many as five million adults in the UK have undiagnosed high blood pressure, so will not know that they are at risk, according to the British Heart Foundation.

Blood pressure is defined as the force put on your blood vessels and organs as blood is pumped around your body by your heart.

Blood pressure is recorded with two numbers. The systolic pressure, a higher number, is the force at which your heart pumps blood around your body.

The diastolic pressure, a lower number, is the resistance to the blood flow in the blood vessels.

The NHS says: “Blood pressure readings between 120/80mmHg and 140/90mmHg could mean you’re at risk of developing high blood pressure if you do not take steps to keep your blood pressure under control.

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“Making healthy lifestyle changes can sometimes help reduce your chances of getting high blood pressure and help lower your blood pressure if it’s already high.”

If you are over the age of 40, the health body says you should be getting it checked every five years.

The Mayo Clinic says: “Most people with high blood pressure have no signs or symptoms, even if blood pressure readings reach dangerously high levels.”

Nonetheless, the organisation says a few people with high blood pressure may have headaches, shortness of breath or nosebleeds.

It adds: “But these signs and symptoms aren’t specific and usually don’t occur until high blood pressure has reached a severe or life-threatening stage.”

If you are concerned about high levels, cutting down on certain foods is one of the simplest ways to lower your blood pressure.

The NHS says: “A diet high in salt (or sodium) can cause raised blood pressure, which can increase your risk of heart disease and stroke.

“Some foods are almost always high in salt because of the way they are made.”

Blood Pressure UK explains: “Salt makes your body hold onto water. If you eat too much, the extra water in your blood means there is extra pressure on your blood vessel walls, raising your blood pressure.”

It says that as well as reducing the amount of salt you eat and having a generally healthy diet, you should cut back on alcohol, lose weight if you’re overweight, cut down on caffeine, and if you are a smoker you should stop smoking.

The BHF says physical activity can help reduce your risk of heart and circulatory disease and reduce blood pressure and cholesterol.

The NHS says: “Regularly drinking too much alcohol can raise your blood pressure over time.”

The American Heart Association says foods that are rich in potassium are important in managing high blood pressure.

This is “because potassium lessens the effects of sodium”. The more potassium you eat, the more sodium you lose through urine.

The organisation says: “Potassium also helps to ease tension in your blood vessel walls, which helps further lower blood pressure.”

Blood pressure testing is available:

  • At your GP surgery – by a GP, practice nurse, healthcare assistant or self-service machine
  • At some pharmacies
  • At an NHS Health Check appointment offered to adults aged 40 to 74 in England
  • In some workplaces
  • At a health event.

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