Header image

About high blood pressure

About high blood pressure

High blood pressure (hypertension) affects many people. The main issue is that it can go undiagnosed as there are no real symptoms that can be directly related to it. Most people will only find out that they have high blood pressure if they are tested via a health check or home monitor.

This is very unfortunate as high blood pressure can be a silent killer, leading to angina (chest pain), heart failure, heart attacks or a stroke. Other issues from it can be kidney failure and poor vision.

There are many reasons that could lead someone to have high blood pressure. The older you get the more chances there are for you to have it.

What is blood pressure?

Your heart pumps your blood around the body and this requires force. The amount of force needed will be determined by how healthy you are in terms of your arteries and heart. If the walls of your arteries become less elastic and/or less rigid and/or narrowed more force is needed and the heart has to work harder in order to pump the blood around the body, creating high blood pressure.

While we are on the subject of blood pressure, it is also important to point out that very low readings for blood pressure (hypotension) can also be a sign that there is an underlying health issue.

Measuring your blood pressure

You can measure your blood pressure using many types of monitors available on the market. Most home users will use a digital monitor. If you intend to measure your own blood pressure, research and purchase a good digital electronic blood pressure monitor that has been validated by a recognized heart foundation/society or medical authority. Also note that many of these devices need to be recalibrated every two years. I would also suggest you use one that has an arm cuff rather than a wrist cuff.

When taking readings it is important to note that your blood pressure changes throughout the day. It is normally highest in the morning and lowers at night. However, this may not be true for those who have an underlying health condition. Therefore it is best to take readings several times in a day, such as in the morning, afternoon and evening. Being worried, stressed or running about can also raise your blood pressure, so try to do it when you are settled down, relaxed and calm. It is also suggested you take readings over several days. However if you can do this at home, I’d suggest doing it over at least a week period. If you do, take three readings at each sitting and write down the readings on a spreadsheet or note pad to keep a record.

Your blood pressure measurements are made up of systolic pressure, where your heart squeezes and pumps out the blood and diastolic pressure, which is where the heart then relaxes between the beats. The harder your heart needs to pump and relax the higher your blood pressure reading will be.

 So your blood pressure will be written as follows:


The first measurement is the systolic reading and the second is the diastolic reading.

Something around 120/80 would be considered normal. If your blood pressure is higher than 130/80 it can be considered elevated, while 140/90 would be considered high. If your readings are regularly higher than 130/80 I would suggest you visit your doctor to get a full diagnoses. It is always better to get an early diagnoses rather than leave it just because it is slightly high.

What can cause high blood pressure?

There are a number of factors that can cause high blood pressure. Most of which will cause the narrowing of the blood vessels and arteries.

  • Smoking
  • Being overweight
  • Diabetes
  • Not being physically active
  • Having a bad diet
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Genetics or hereditary reasons
  • Getting older
  • Hormone imbalance
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Some types of diseases
  • Some types of medication

Although there are no official symptoms for high blood pressure, the following may be a sign that you are best to have it checked out, if not for high blood pressure then at least for any other reason:

  • Dizziness/faintness
  • Feeling sick/headaches/nausea
  • Nose bleed
  • Flowing rush noise in your ears
  • Palpitations/flutters
  • Chest pain
  • Blurry vision
  • Breathing difficulties

What can I do to help reduce my blood pressure?

Often a change in your lifestyle can help greatly, especially if you are not very active. Here is a list of what may help to reduce your blood pressure.

  • Follow a healthier diet. Reduce salt, as it can raise your blood pressure. Reduce caffeine intake, as this can create short but high increases in blood pressure. Stop eating processed foods, as they often contain bad fats that thicken and block the arteries. Eat more fruit, vegetables and fibre. Get more potassium (but be aware that if you use medication for high blood pressure some of them make the body retain potassium, so watch out for that). Eat high nitrate foods (beetroot is very good) and garlic with Allicin as these can help soften, relax and open up your arteries.
  • Stop or reduce alcohol consumption as this can increase fat deposits in the arteries.
  • Stop smoking as this can damage arteries.
  • Meditate and/or relax to reduce stress.
  • Lose weight if needed, reduce body fat and your waistline. This will help with sleep apnea and breathing which can raise your blood pressure.
  • Get regular exercise (if cleared to do so). Stick to moderate intensity exercise and don’t lift heavy weights.
  • Just be more active, doing gardening, walking the dog, walking to the shops will help you get a healthier heart and cardio system.
  • You may have an underlying health issue that needs to be diagnosed. You may have to have a blood test and/or urine test for this. Or a heart check using an electrocardiogram (ECG). They will check your blood sugar, cholesterol levels, protein in your urine, and your heart activity.
  • Monitor your own blood pressure at home.
  • If none of the above helps or you are at high risk, you may have to take medication under direction of your doctor. There could also be regular blood tests to ensure your kidneys are healthy and/or your potassium levels are not too high while you are on medication for high blood pressure.


Don’t ignore it if you suspect or know you have high blood pressure. It can lead to heart attacks/strokes and eye issues, kidney disease and much more. It can affect many areas of the body due to the damage caused to your arteries and blocked circulation.

If you are over 40 I would suggest you get your blood pressure measured and then keep a regular eye on it.

Even fit healthy people can suffer from high blood pressure, as genetics unfortunately can play a trump card on all of us regardless of our diet or activity level, so don’t ignore it.