Knowledge is Power: Know your Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is the number one cause of premature death worldwide and is a major risk factor for heart disease, stroke and kidney disease. High blood pressure is very common in Ireland, with 60% of Irish adults suffering from the condition.

Known as the ‘silent killer’, high blood pressure rarely causes any signs or symptoms therefore the only way to detect the condition is to have your blood pressure checked. The good news is that blood pressure (BP) is easily measured, with little discomfort and Croí recommends that everyone should get their blood pressure checked at least once every year. The next bit of good news is, once you know you have elevated blood pressure you can take action to help control it.

What are the ideal target levels for blood pressure?

Knowing both your systolic and diastolic blood pressure numbers is important and could save your life.

♥ If your blood pressure is below 120/80 (meaning less than 120 mmHg of systolic blood pressure and less than 80 mmHg of diastolic blood pressure) then you have normal healthy blood pressure.

♥ If your blood pressure is less than 140/90 but above 120/80 you are at increased risk of developing high blood pressure and you need to take some steps to improve your lifestyle.

♥ If your blood pressure is above 140/90 you need to be assessed by your GP or Practice Nurse to be diagnosed with high blood pressure.

It is important to be aware that high blood pressure cannot be diagnosed on one single reading, you need to have it checked on numerous occasions and you ideally need to have 24 hour blood pressure monitoring.

How can you reduce your blood pressure?

Everyone can benefit from taking measures to lower blood pressure. Even if you have a healthy blood pressure you can still take steps to ensure it remains healthy. Lifestyle measures such as weight control; increased physical activity; alcohol in moderation; quitting smoking; increased fruit and vegetable intake; opting for low fat dairy products and reducing your salt intake have all been shown to reduce blood pressure.

Did you know?

♥ A 10% weight reduction can lower you BP by as much as 10- 20mmHg

♥ Having no more than a half a teaspoon (2.4g) of salt a day can lower your BP by 2-8mmHg.

♥ If everyone in Ireland reduced their salt intake by this amount this could prevent approximately 900 deaths per year from stroke and heart disease.

♥ A diet rich in fruit and vegetables can lower your BP by 8-14mmHg

♥ Taking a brisk walk every day for 30 minutes can reduce your BP by 4-7mmHg

♥ Reducing your alcohol intake to the recommended safe limits can help reduce your BP by 2-3mmHg.

By taking control of your blood pressure you can make a positive step towards reducing your overall risk of developing cardiovascular disease.