Every year Blood Pressure UK reminds us of how important it really is to keep a watchful eye on our blood pressure levels. For the thirteenth consecutive year, the hugely popular ‘Know your Numbers!’ awareness campaign encourages adults to have a free blood pressure check in one of over 1,000 designated “Pressure Stations” dotted across the UK. Have you had yours checked yet?
Why is it important to monitor your blood pressure?
- If your blood pressure is too high, your arteries and blood vessels could be under strain with the excessive pressure. High blood pressure, or hypertension, can be a serious issue if not managed properly and checked regularly.
- High blood pressure can sometimes increase exposure to the risk of; heart attacks, strokes, kidney diseases, dementia, brain damage and some eye conditions.
Many people have no idea of their blood pressure levels, despite the fact that an abnormal blood pressure reading could give early warning signs of a serious medical complaint that could have been prevented.
With around 30% of the population in the UK suffering from high blood pressure, many of whom are unaware of it, the Know your Numbers! campaign does a fantastic job of raising awareness and could prevent 250,000 adults across the UK from developing other illnesses by recognising and managing them properly. To avoid any nasty surprises, it’s well worth having a quick, free check each year at any of the “Pressure Stations.” Alternatively, if you live in another country, why not take a visit to your local doctor, clinic or pharmacy and book yourself in for a check?
Remember, the lower your blood pressure, the lower your risk is of suffering from other illnesses. When you have your blood pressure checked, the doctor or nurse will tell you if your level falls within a safe boundary. For a full explanation of desirable blood pressure values, Blood Pressure UK is well worth a read.
How to reduce your blood pressure
Adopting a healthy lifestyle reduces the likelihood of getting high blood pressure. If you have the Know-how and the willpower, you’ll be amazed by the changes you can make to your blood pressure and your energy levels. The NHS website recommends the following changes:
- Reduce the amount of salt you eat and cook with, while bearing in mind that many processed, fast foods already have a high salt content
- Cut out saturated fats such as whole fat milk, butter and cheese
- Give up or reduce your smoking
- Increase your fresh fruit and vegetable intake as potassium will counteract your salt levels
- Drink alcohol in moderation only (a maximum of 2-3 units for women, 3-4 units for men per day)
- Do at least half an hour of moderate activity each day, whatever is comfortable for you. This gives your heart the exercise it needs to keep your arteries flexible
- Lose weight if you are overweight cut down your portion sizes and stick to a healthy weight loss plan
Travelling with high blood pressure
High blood pressure doesn’t necessarily mean you need to stay home and put your feet up. In fact, a moderately active lifestyle is recommended.
Andy Bord, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Staysure, says; “Having high blood pressure need not be a barrier to travelling. In fact all forms of travel are viable for those with the condition, even long distance, provided travellers listen to medical advice and take some simple steps to safeguard their health.”
Staysure is advising travellers to take some simple precautions to ensure their holiday is as safe and stress-free as possible:
- Always declare your medical condition to your insurance provider to make sure you are adequately covered when you are away from home.
- Air travel can be a time consuming and potentially stressful exercise, with queues, security, delays and connections. When flying, you will greatly reduce stress by arriving in plenty of time for check-in and departure.
- At high altitudes – even in a pressurised aircraft cabin – some people with high blood pressure can run the risk of hypoxia, or oxygen deprivation, which can often cause swelling and blood clots. It is a good idea to request a seat by the emergency exit when you check in at the airport. This will give you extra leg room or flex your feet to keep the blood circulating.
- Remember to bring extra medication in your hand luggage, along with a prescription in case your mediation goes missing or you need more on your holiday. Ask your pharmacist to advise you of international and generic brand names for your UK medication.
Click here to find out more about Know your Numbers!