Word on Health

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Word On Blood Pressure

Our thanks to the Blood Pressure UK (BPUK) for their contribution to this weeks report and for the reproduction of some of the text below. To find out more click here to visit their website.

1 in 3 adults in the UK (16 million) has high blood pressure. More than 5 million people don't know they have high blood pressure - that's why it's called the silent killer.

High blood pressure is the biggest known cause of premature death and disability in the UK due to the strokes, heart attacks and heart disease it causes. It is also a risk factor for kidney disease and dementia.

People with high blood pressure are 3 times more likely to develop heart disease and stroke and twice as likely to die from these as people with a normal blood pressure.

Each year 125,000 adults in the UK have a heart attack or stroke in which high blood pressure is a key factor - that's a preventable stroke or heart attack every 4 minutes.

High-risk groups include the over 55's, people of African Caribbean descent, and people of South Asian origin who are more prone to other vascular conditions.

High blood pressure causes the arteries to fur up (atherosclerosis) and puts extra strain on the blood vessels. You may not know if you have high blood pressure, so you should have it checked regularly. (A normal healthy adult blood pressure is less than 140/90mmHg.)

Tackle stress & depression  Many things in life - like overwork, redundancy, family problems and bereavement - can lead to stress and depression. These take a physical toll on the body, and if they are not treated they can contribute to long-term health problems. It's important that you get any help you need from your doctor or other health professional.

Alcohol  Drinking too much alcohol raises blood pressure. Binge drinking (drinking more than six units in six hours) is particularly dangerous as it can cause blood pressure to soar. If you limit your alcohol to within the current guidelines there's nothing wrong with the occasional drink - in moderation, it may even do you good!

  • Women should drink no more than two to three units of alcohol a day. (Women who are pregnant should not drink at all.)
  • Men should drink no more than three to four units a day.
  • Don't drink every day. Try to have a few alcohol-free days a week.

A unit of alcohol is a small glass of wine, a single pub measure of spirits or half a pint of weak beer or lager.

Healthy eating is essential for a healthy heart & bloodstream You should aim for at least five portions of fruit and vegetables each day. A portion is about 80 grams (3 ounces) - for example, an apple, an orange or a glass of orange juice, a large carrot, two broccoli florets, a handful of grapes or three tablespoons of peas.

Don't fill up or snack on junk food. Instead, eat as much fresh fruit, vegetables, and dried fruit as you like. If you can always cook fresh but see below about salt & blood pressure (There are steps you can take to enhance flavour yet reduce the salt you use in cooking the blood pressure UK site will have details)  

Choose low-fat proteins  - Don't eat too much red meat - choose fish, poultry (with the skin removed), game or vegetarian alternatives instead. Most red meat is high in saturated fat which contributes to the arteries furring up.

Reduce your salt intake  Salt raises blood pressure. Don't add salt to your food and avoid processed foods/fast foods which contain a lot of salt.

Eat more fibre Foods high in fibre help control blood fat levels. Try whole-grain cereals, porridge, brown rice, wholewheat bread and pasta, and grains such as couscous.

Limit the amount of fat you eat You need some fat in your diet, but too much can clog up your arteries and add to weight problems. Try to limit the amount you use and stick to vegetable, seed and nut oils rather than margarine and butter.

Watch your weight  Being overweight is a risk factor for high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes, all of which increase your risk of stroke. A healthy diet and regular exercise (30minutes brisk walking 5 times a week) will help control your weight.

 

Listen to this weeks radio report

All material on this website is provided for your information only and may not be construed as medical advice or instruction. No action or inaction should be taken based solely on the contents of this information; instead, readers should consult appropriate health professionals on any matter relating to their health and well-being.