Know Your Numbers Week 2019 – Blood Pressure Testing

1 August, 2019

This September, as part of their Know Your Numbers Week campaign (9th -15th September), Blood Pressure UK is asking the country – do you know your blood pressure numbers? Chances are unless you’ve been to your GP recently, you probably don’t. So, let’s take a look at exactly what blood pressure is, what it means for your health, and why it’s important to get tested this September!

What is blood pressure?

Simply put, BP is the measure of force that your heart uses to pump blood around the body. It’s represented using two numbers:

Systolic – the pressure where your heart pumps blood around the body.
Diastolic – the pressure where your heart rests, in between beats.

Your score will usually be communicated as your systolic score followed by (“over”) your diastolic score. For example, this might look like “120 over 80” or “120/80mmHg” – where mmHg means millimetres of mercury (this is just a medical way of representing pressure).

Everybody has a blood pressure score, and there are pretty good guidelines on what constitutes an ideal score and non-ideal scores.

What is a healthy blood pressure score?

Your GP will be able to help you understand what your specific blood pressure score means for your health, but as a general rule, the table below gives a good indication of ideal and non-ideal blood pressure scores in otherwise healthy adults.

Generally speaking, if you have a score under 120 (systolic) over 80 (diastolic) and above 90 (systolic) over 60 (diastolic), that’s an ideal score for a healthy UK adult. Above 120 over 80, and you’re in the ‘high-normal’ group. Your blood pressure is still okay at this stage, but you need to keep an eye on it as you could be heading towards the high blood pressure range – above 140 over 90.

How does your blood pressure affect your health?

According to the NHS, low blood pressure (hypotension) isn’t usually as serious as high blood pressure, but it can cause dizziness and fainting. Your GP can be more specific about what low blood pressure means for you.

High blood pressure (hypertension) on the other hand, can be very serious. Increased pressure can put a strain on your arteries, which can lead to a variety of conditions, including:

  • Heart disease
  • Heart attacks
  • Strokes
  • Heart failure
  • Peripheral arterial disease
  • Aortic aneurysms
  • Kidney disease
  • Vascular dementia

High blood pressure usually has no symptoms and is often picked up during a routine health check or similar. This is why it’s crucial to regularly monitor your blood pressure.

What causes high blood pressure?

High blood pressure has several potential causes. According to the NHS, these can include:

  • Being over the age of 65
  • Being overweight
  • Being of African or Caribbean descent
  • Having a relative with high blood pressure
  • Eating too much salt and not eating enough fruit and vegetables
  • Not doing enough exercise
  • Drinking too much alcohol or coffee (or other caffeine-based drinks)
  • Smoking
  • Not getting much sleep or having disturbed sleep

How often should I get my blood pressure tested?

The NHS advises that otherwise healthy adults over the age of 40 should have their blood pressure checked at least every 5 years. It’s a quick and simple test and takes only a few minutes.

Understandably though, blood pressure isn’t always at the forefront of your mind. Given that all of us, regardless of age, gender or race, can be guilty of one or some of those modifiable causes of high blood pressure listed above (such as being overweight or drinking too much alcohol, for example), it’s important for us to keep an eye on our blood pressure regularly.

Workplace blood pressure testing

Here at New Leaf Health we offer workplace-based blood pressure testing, conveniently bringing the test to you. With our Health Check Point Awareness Day, the whole workforce can get their blood pressure tested quickly and safely, creating a nice health-related buzz around the workplace.

Better yet, attendees will also be able to find out other key health stats such as body fat percentage, muscle mass score, BMI and much more – which can be linked to high blood pressure as well as other health issues, such as diabetes and cancer.

A qualified health professional will be at hand to help attendees understand their results, as well as giving them general lifestyle advice, and helping them to set goals to lead a healthier life and improve their scores, such as reducing their blood pressure.

To find out more about the New Leaf Health Check Point, click here, send an email to enquiries@newleafhealth.co.uk, or give us a call on 01384 877855 – we’re always happy to chat about helping you to develop a healthier workplace!

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