Just a short URGENT public announcement for you, it’s time to book that health check up! Stop putting it off.
Given the stresses of COVID over the last 12 months we certainly can’t blame people for letting their health check ups slide. But good health is the most important thing you have.
Did you know if you’re 18 or over, you should get your blood pressure checked at least every two years. If you are 45 and over, or 30 and over if you’re Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, you should get your blood pressure checked as part of a regular Heart Health Check (HHC).
Women who have experienced high blood pressure or preeclampsia in pregnancy should have an annual blood pressure check with their GP.
Shockingly one Australian has a heart attack or stroke every four minutes. Many people may not be aware of their risk factors for heart disease. Also, some risk factors like high blood pressure or high cholesterol can be silent.
We asked the Heart Foundation what people need to be aware of when it comes to their Blood Pressure and heart health.
Are you a bit worried your blood pressure might be up?
Blood pressure is the pressure of your blood on the walls of your arteries as your heart pumps it around your body. Your blood pressure will go up and down naturally throughout the day depending on what you are doing, especially if you are doing exercise.
What’s a healthy or ‘normal’ blood pressure reading?
A ‘normal’ blood pressure reading would be:
Systolic blood pressure under 120 mm Hg
Diastolic blood pressure under 80 mm Hg.
What does it mean to have high blood pressure?
High blood pressure is when your blood pressure is permanently higher than normal. High blood pressure is one of the main risk factors for heart disease, especially heart attacks and strokes.
It’s possible to have high blood pressure without knowing, so it’s important to keep an eye on it by getting your heart health checked regularly by a health professional.
There is a clear link between high blood pressure and an increased risk of heart disease, in particular having a heart attack or stroke.
What are the signs and symptoms of high blood pressure?
There are no obvious signs or symptoms of high blood pressure, so you may not know you have it. That’s why it’s important to have regular check-ups to measure your blood pressure levels and learn how to manage it.
What causes high blood pressure?
There is no one specific cause of high blood pressure, but there are a number of things that can increase your chances of developing it, including:
- Family history
- Eating patterns (including salty foods)
- Alcohol intake
- Physical activity and exercise levels.
Your blood pressure can also go up temporarily due to stress, your emotional state, recent physical activity, caffeine consumption or even talking.
How do I measure my blood pressure at home?
You can have your blood pressure measured by a doctor, a nurse, a pharmacist, or at home (with an approved machine).
It’s important that you only buy blood pressure devices that have been approved by the British Hypertension Society.
For the best results, you should:
- Use a cuff that fits the top half of your arm properly
- Take your measurements for seven days (minimum five) at around the same time in the morning or evening
- Do your reading before eating, taking medication or vigorous exercise
- Don’t smoke or drink caffeine for 30 minutes before your reading
- Don’t measure your blood pressure if you don’t feel comfortable or you are stressed or in pain.
How to take your reading.
When you are ready to take your blood pressure reading, follow these steps:
- Sit quietly for five minutes, distraction-free
- Sit with both feet flat on the ground, with the top half of your arm bare and your back and arm supported
- Take two measures, one minute apart
- Record each measure in a paper diary or spreadsheet that you can take to your next doctor’s appointment.
How can you lower your high blood pressure?
The best way to look after your heart is with a healthy lifestyle.
Eat a heart-healthy diet – eat less salt, a diet high in salt can lead to higher blood pressure
Replace unhealthy fats with healthy fats: Replacing saturated and trans fats with unsaturated fats can reduce your risk of heart disease.
- Manage your blood cholesterol
- Be physically active
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Be smoke-free
- Look after your mental health
- Limit your alcohol intake