There are no signs or symptoms of high blood pressure, but it’s a serious issue as it can increase the likelihood of you having a stroke, heart attack or kidney problems.
The only way to tell if you have high blood pressure – or hypertension – is to have it checked by your GP or a nurse. Contact your local doctor’s surgery to find out how to book in for regular checks.
However, there are ways you can prevent or reduce high blood pressure. These tips are also useful for controlling high blood pressure if you’ve already been diagnosed.
1. Keep to a healthy weight
Being overweight means that your heart needs to work harder to pump the blood around your body, which can cause high blood pressure.
You can find out if you have a healthy BMI using the NHS’ calculator at http://www.nhs.uk/Tools/Pages/Healthyweightcalculator.aspx
2. Get enough exercise
Regular exercise helps to keep your heart and blood vessels in a healthy condition, which can help to reduce blood pressure.
Try to do around 2 ½ hours of moderate-intensity exercise – such as fast walking or cycling – each week. You can find some inspiration on our blogs about getting fit for free and keeping active if you’re disabled.
3. Cut down on caffeine and alcohol
Drinking over four cups of coffee every day may raise your blood pressure. If you tend to drink a lot of caffeine-rich drinks – such as coffee, tea, Coke or energy drinks – see if you can cut back or switch to decaffeinated alternatives.
If you drink alcohol it’s important for your heart to stay within the recommended limits. Regularly drinking too much can raise your blood pressure over time. For men, the recommended amount is no more than 3-4 units a day and for women it’s no more than 2-3. Alcohol Concern has a useful unit calculator you can use to work out how much you consume.
4. Eat a healthy diet
Try to eat a balanced diet, with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. Too much salt raises blood pressure, so try to limit your intake to less than 6g (about a teaspoonful) each day.
We have more advice on eating well on our physical health blog.
5. Get enough sleep
Aim to get around 6 hours’ sleep each night. Long-term sleep deprivation has been shown to increase the risk of high blood pressure.
Have trouble getting enough shut-eye? Read our tips for improving your sleep.
For more in-depth information on high blood pressure, the British Heart Foundation website has a page on the condition, including videos. Visit it here.
Worried about your health? We’re here.
Ben is here to provide support for life to those who work in the UK’s automotive industry and their family dependants. If you need support, you can ring our free, confidential helpline on 08081 311 333 or use our online chat.