How a simple blood pressure test could save your life

To mark World Hypertension Day on 17th May, we’re talking about the blood pressure test, available at our practice. Here, your GP discusses the ins and outs of hypertension, and urges everyone to take the test which could potentially save you from the silent killer.

Getting to the heart of the problem

A blood pressure test quite simply measures the pressure inside your arteries as your heart pumps blood. Of course, your blood pressure changes continually depending on a whole range of things such as how active you are, your diet, temperature, emotional state, or current medication, for example.

However, when resting, we would expect to see your blood pressure sit within a certain range. Figures outside this range can be an indication of a health issue.

Putting it to the test

A blood pressure test takes just minutes to complete. First, you’ll be asked a few questions about your medical history, general health, and lifestyle. Rest assured, we’ll ensure you’re fully comfortable and relaxed before commencing the test.

Second, we’ll ask you to rest one arm on a table, and we’ll place a fabric cuff around your upper arm. We’ll then inflate the cuff using a small hand-held pump, and as the cuff deflates, a machine will read your blood pressure and display the numbers on a screen.

The whole process takes just a minute and the results will be provided immediately. You’ll be given plenty of time to ask questions and, depending on your results, you’ll be carefully guided through the next steps, should any further action be required.

Figuratively speaking

A healthy blood pressure reading should be around 120/80mmHg. Anything significantly above or below that level will need to be investigated. For instance, a figure of 140/90 or higher would suggest high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. On the other hand, a figure of 90/60 or lower would suggest low blood pressure, also known as hypotension.

Rising tension

High blood pressure is thought to affect around 1 in 3 adults, leaving them more at risk of heart problems, strokes, kidney disease, and damage to other vital organs.

Certain groups are classed as being more at risk than others. They include those who:

  • Are age 60+
  • Have a family history of high blood pressure or heart disease
  • Are overweight
  • Don’t exercise regularly
  • Are of Asian or African-Caribbean descent
  • Have a diet high in salt
  • Have a diet low in fruit and vegetables
  • Drink more than 2-3 units of alcohol a day for women, or 3-4 units for men

However, it must be emphasised that all adults are at risk of high blood pressure and it is therefore vitally important that we all take steps to reduce our risk where possible.

Time to take the test

Many sufferers of high blood pressure don’t experience any symptoms, hence the reason hypertension is often referred to as ‘the silent killer’. Therefore, a blood pressure test is the only way to detect the problem.

We recommend those classed as high-risk have a blood pressure test every year. For everyone else aged over 40, we recommend you have a blood pressure test every 5 years.

A 5-minute test can keep you safe.  Book an appointment with us.

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