World Health Day: High Blood Pressure
Sunday 7th April is World Health Day. The day marks the anniversary of the founding of the World Health Organisation in 1948 and each year there is a theme which highlights a priority area for public health concern in the world. This year’s theme is blood pressure.
High blood pressure is a condition that affects more than one in three adults worldwide and can lead to fatal heart attacks, debilitating strokes and chronic heart and kidney disease. Some of the main causes of high blood pressure include an unbalanced diet, a lack of physical activity, smoking and harmful use of alcohol together with a stressful lifestyle.
With such shockingly high statistics it is important that we all know how we can monitor our blood pressure and reduce the chances of it rising – below are some tips we should bear in mind:
- Ensure that you get your blood pressure checked – Having high blood pressure is not something that you normally feel or notice. There will not always be obvious signs or symptoms so it is important to have it measured
- Eat less salt – It is important to eat as little salt as possible. A simple way to achieve this is by not adding salt when cooking food or at the table. It is also important to check the salt content of any prepared foods such as bread, breakfast cereals and ready meals as they can contribute a vast amount to our salt intake without us realising
- Keep to a healthy weight – Losing weight, if you need to, can help lower your blood pressure. The best way to do this is to select low fat, low calorie food and to get active! Being moderately active for 30 minutes 5 times a week can keep your heart healthy as well as lowering blood pressure. Check out Amy Jones’ blog post which highlights the benefit of getting active and provides suggestions on exercises to try
- Eat more fruit and vegetables – Fruit helps to lower blood pressure. Adults should aim to eat 5 portions of fruit or veg per day. This sounds like a lot but remember that fruit/veg smoothies and pure fruit juice drinks count towards this. Dried and tinned food are also included but make sure that you check the packet for any added salts, sugar or fats
- Drink less alcohol – Over time, too much alcohol can increase your blood pressure. The government advises that men should not drink more than 3-4 units of alcohol per day (equivalent to a pint and a half of 4% beer) and 2-3 units for women (equivalent to a 175ml glass of wine). If you are concerned that you may be drinking too much or are unsure of your unit intake, have a look at the drink aware website. It contains some handy tools to help you work out how much alcohol you are drinking and ways to cut down if necessary
- Avoid tobacco use – Smoking doesn’t directly cause high blood pressure but if you smoke and have high blood pressure, your arteries will narrow more quickly causing an increased risk of heart or lung disease. If you want to stop smoking, why not take part in Creative Support’s stop smoking scheme which is open to staff and service users? To participate, smokers must kick their habit for 13 weeks. Following this initial 13 week period, individuals must prove that they haven’t smoked for a further three months. Line managers will monitor the progress of staff members and support workers for service users. Those who succeed can claim an incentive reward of £130.00 from Creative Support.
I hope that this year’s World Health Day inspires you to get your blood pressure checked – remember, early detection is key!
By Imogen Revell, Development Officer