The 6 things you need to do to lower blood pressure – according to the NHS | The Sun

HIGH blood pressure affects an astonishing one in three Brits – putting them at risk of several deadly conditions.

The condition is often dubbed the "silent killer" as it rarely displays symptoms.

Raised blood pressure is the biggest cause of death in the world – killing more than 10 million every year.

Experts believe that in England alone there are more than five million people walking around undiagnosed.

While treating high blood pressure with medicine is usually necessary, the NHS says there are several simple lifestyle changes that can help prevent and lower high blood pressure.

1. Reduce the amount of salt you eat

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You should eat no more than five grams of salt a day, according to NHS guidelines.

However, most people eat more than this.

Experts have urged the public consider removing the flavour enhancer from their diet altogether.

A study found slashing the amount of salt you eat can transform your blood pressure.

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All it would take is making a few switches in your weekly shop, and choosing items with less sodium in, to cut your risk.

The top tip is to swap out is table salt, according to the Salt Substitute and Stroke Study, replacing it with a reduced sodium and added potassium alternative.

Doing so saw a 14 per cent reduction in the risk of strokes during the widescale study.

2. Cut back on alcohol

Regularly drinking too much alcohol can raise your blood pressure over time, the NHS says. 

And keep in mind that alcohol contains calories and may contribute to unwanted weight gain — a risk factor for high blood pressure.

The UK Chief Medical Officers' (CMO) low risk drinking guidelines advise that people should not regularly drink more than more than 14 units a week to keep health risks from alcohol low.

3. Lose weight if you're overweight

Being overweight forces your heart to work harder to pump blood around your body, which can raise your blood pressure.

If you do need to lose some weight, it's worth remembering that just losing a few pounds will make a big difference to your blood pressure and overall health, the NHS says.

4. Exercise regularly

Regular exercise can lower blood pressure and is great for your heart and blood vessels.

A recent study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that isometric exercises in particular can help slash your blood pressure.

The experts said that taking part in hand exercises in bouts of 20 minutes for three times a week, led to a drop in blood pressure.

Here are the three simple exercises you need to know that can help.

5. Cut down on caffeine

Caffeinated beverages, including energy drinks and coffee, can cause a short, but dramatic increase in your blood pressure – even if you don't have high blood pressure.

A previous study found caffeine can trigger potentially “life threatening” changes in blood pressure and heart rhythm.

Researchers warned that people also had higher blood pressure six hours after drinking the beverage, while those simple drinking caffeine did not.

6. Stop smoking

Smoking causes the walls of the arteries to get sticky as well as narrower.

This can prevent blood from flowing properly, causing blockages, which could lead to heart attack or stroke.

While smoking is not a direct cause of high blood pressure, it can cause an instant rise to pressure, heart rate and reduce the amount of oxygen that gets to the body’s cells.

It is known to be dangerous to the circulatory system. 

What is a normal blood pressure reading?

Blood pressure is measured as systolic and diastolic pressure.

Systolic pressure is the force at which your heart pumps blood around your body, and diastolic pressure is the resistance to the blood flow in the blood vessels.

It’s given as two numbers, the first of which is systolic, and the second of which is diastolic.

The ideal blood pressure should be below 120 and over 80 (120/80).

Most UK adults have blood pressure in the range 120 over 80 (120/80) to 140 over 90 (140/90).

You can request a blood pressure reading at your local GP. 

Some surgeries have a machine in the waiting area and it just takes a few minutes to take a reading.

You can also ask your local pharmacy, although they may ask for a request from your GP.

Other places that may have a blood pressure reader include gyms and workplaces. 

Temporary blood pressure-testing stations also pop up every September as part of Blood Pressure UK’s annual awareness-raising campaign.

Healthy adults aged over 40 should have their blood pressure checked at least once every five years, the NHS says.

But this should be once a year if you have risk factors (described below).

People in England aged between 40 and 74 will also be offered a reading as part of their NHS Health Check.

Blood pressure is measured with an instrument called a sphygmomanometer.

A cuff is placed around your arm and inflated with a pump until the circulation is cut off.

Afterwards a small valve slowly deflates the cuff, giving the doctor or machine a chance to measure the blood pressure.

What are the risks if it is too high or too low?

If your blood pressure is too high it puts extra strain on your arteries (and your heart) and this may lead to heart attacks and strokes.

Other problems related to high blood pressure are heart disease, kidney disease, vascular dementia, peripheral artery disease and erectile dysfunction.

For the most part, the lower your blood pressure the better. 

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However, low blood pressure can also lead to worrying symptoms, including dizziness, nausea, fainting and dehydration.

High blood pressure is one of the leading causes of death, despite being both largely preventable and treatable.

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