Keeping the blood flowing

High blood pressure

We’ve been talking with the British Heart Foundation about blood pressure and in particular about high blood pressure, which is also known as hypertension.

What is hypertension?

Blood pressure is the pressure of blood in your arteries – the vessels that carry your blood from your heart to your brain and the rest of your body. Although your arteries are stretchy to cope with your blood pressure going up and down, if you have high blood pressure, your arteries lose their stretchiness and become stiff or narrow. The narrowing makes it easier for fatty material to clog them up. 

Your blood pressure naturally goes up and down throughout the day and night, and it’s normal for it to go up while you’re moving about. It’s when your overall blood pressure is consistently high, even when you are resting, that you need to do something about it.

High blood pressure is medically known as hypertension. It means your blood pressure is consistently too high and that your heart must work harder to pump blood around your body.

If you ignore it, it can lead to heart and circulatory diseases like heart attack or stroke and it can also cause kidney failure, heart failure, problems with your sight and vascular dementia.

What are the causes of hypertension?

There isn’t always an explanation for the cause of high blood pressure (hypertension), but most people develop it because of their diet, lifestyle, or medical condition.

Sometimes high blood pressure runs in families and can also worsen with age. People living in deprived areas are at higher risk of having high blood pressure, and it is also more common if you are of black African or black Caribbean descent. Even in these cases, you may still be able to improve your blood pressure by changing your diet and being active.

These factors can all increase your risk of getting high blood pressure:

  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Smoking
  • Being overweight
  • Not doing enough exercise
  • Eating too much salt

In a small number of people, the cause of high blood pressure can be identified. Doctors sometimes call this secondary hypertension. For example, an abnormal production of hormones from the adrenal glands can lead to high blood pressure. If your doctor gives you treatment for the hormonal condition, your blood pressure should then return to normal.

A range of subject leaflets is available on the British Heart Foundation (BHF) website.

Get on top of your blood pressure

If you’re experiencing symptoms, or have concerns about your blood pressure, our cardiology specialists offer a range of tests and scans, from 24 hour blood pressure monitoring and heart monitoring to CT angiogram. It’s easy to make an appointment; you can ask your Consultant or give us a call on 01580 363158.

Published on 01 February 2021