Roughly 39 per cent of those aged over 55 years are thought to have high blood pressure.
This excess force of blood pressing against your artery walls can damage blood vessels and has the potential to trigger a heart attack, stroke or damage your kidneys.
Good news is at hand however, with a few easy lifestyle changes seeing a reduction in your blood pressure that also reduces your risk.
If you’ve never really understood what those two figures used by your doctor to record your blood pressure mean, strap yourself in for a quick induction. The larger number (known as the systolic) is usually the one of most interest as it refers to the amount of pressure in your arteries. The smaller number is the diastolic and refers to your blood pressure when your heart muscle is between beats.
According to professor Tom Marwick, director of Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute, a normal reading is around 120/80 mmHg.
If your systolic number goes up to 140, your doctor might as you to make a few lifestyle changes and if it goes any higher (say 150 or 160) they might consider putting you on medication.
Your weight also contributes to your blood pressure. Research by the Institute for Quality and Efficacy in Cologne, Germany found that if you lost 4kg you were able to lower your systolic pressure by 4.5 mmHg and your diastolic by 3 mmHg.
Marwick warns that salt is a huge contributor to your blood pressure and recommends you avoid adding it to meals, bypass processed food and start taking an interest in nutrition labels to ensure you aren’t consuming more salt that is recommended.
He says sweet potato, avocado and yoghurt are natural sources of pressure-lowering potassium.
It probably comes as no surprise that exercise is a key to keeping your blood pressure on an even keel. “Physical activity has a beneficial impact on blood vessels and circulation,” Marwick told Prevention magazine.
What’s more is if you get outside and into the sunshine you’ll lower your blood pressure, stress hormones and heart rate.
Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to serious health problems, including death. The potential consequences can motivate you to take care of your blood pressure and lead a heart-healthy life.