World Health Day
Sunday 7th April 2013
This year the World Health Organisation are focusing on maintaining a 'normal' blood pressure to prevent hypertension which is described as a 'silent, invisible killer that rarely causes symptoms'. Raised blood pressure leads to heart attacks and strokes and researchers estimate it causes death in 9 million people each year.
Blood pressure is recorded as two numbers usually written as one above the other. The top number relates to systolic blood pressure i.e. the pressure in the blood vessels as blood is pumped from the heart to the rest of the body as it contracts. The lower number is referred to as diastolic pressure and is the presssure in the vessels as the heart relaxes.
'Normal' blood pressure is defined as 120/80 (units are mmHg)
Hypertension or high blood pressure is equal to or above 140/90
How do we keep our blood pressure low?
We can prevent hypertension by making lifestyle changes such as eating healthily, getting active and maintaining a normal body weight. It is also important to manage stress.
In the UK we are entitled to an annual health check from the age of 40 and if hypertension is detected, it is worth receiving some personalised advice from a health professional to consider what changes you need to make. I also think it is worth raising awareness of blood pressure, hypertension and lifestyle amongst younger people. We recently observed a training session where young people in their twenties were recorded as having higher blood pressure.
Stress has been highlighted by researchers, academics and charities as a key factor influencing physical wellbeing. Harvard Medical School provided some useful guidance on strategies for dealing with stress. This is complemented by the New Economics Foundation 5 ways to wellbeing. To find out more read Focus on managing stress
Focus on reducing salt
Most people are aware of the link between salt and high blood pressure. The FSA launched a national campaign to encourage people to reduce their salt intake to no more than 6 g of salt a day (just over a teaspoon). However, some campaigners are continuing to highlight hidden salt in processed foods, restaurant meals, products such as soups and sauces. The food industry is being encouraged to reformulate product. To find out more read tips for Reducing Salt
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