If you don’t you’re not alone, because high blood pressure, known as hypertension often goes undiagnosed. Figures from the NHS suggest that almost a third of the UK adult population may suffer from high blood pressure.
Fact: Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is any disease that affects the heart or blood vessels, for example, coronary heart disease, angina, heart attacks, high blood pressure, stroke and many more. CVD is one of the leading causes of death in England and high blood pressure is the leading contributor. Around 7 million people in the UK suffer from cardiovascular disease and Public Health England suspect that we have only diagnosed around 60% of those affected.
Measuring your blood pressure is quick and pain-free. To measure your blood pressure a fabric cuff is snugly placed around your upper arm. Whilst you can get some cuffs to go around your wrist, the upper arm is by far the most accurate place to take blood pressure. The cuff wrapped around your arm is slowly inflated and it temporarily restricts circulation. Slowly the pressure inside the cuff is released and your blood starts to flow normally again. The pressure is read by a machine known as a blood pressure monitor.
High blood pressure can be diagnosed when your blood pressure regularly measures 140/90 mmHg or more when resting. The two numbers refer to your systolic and diastolic pressures, that is the pressure when your heartbeats, and the pressure when your heart is at rest respectively. The higher the numbers the greater the strain on your cardiovascular system. Normal blood pressure is around 120/80 mmHg. Our blood pressures will vary and it is important to note that high blood pressure is not usually diagnosed from a single reading, in fact, it often takes several high readings to form a diagnosis. Sometimes people are offered an ambulatory blood pressure monitor. This device is worn for 24 hours and your blood pressure is recorded every hour to help form a better understanding of how your blood pressure varies through the day.
This video from the British Heart Foundation helps to explain what high blood pressure is and the effect it can have on your body.
The simple answer is you probably won’t until you get it measured. High blood pressure is often called the silent killer as it presents with very few if any symptoms yet it’s the leading cause of cardiovascular disease and early death. As mentioned earlier around 40% of adults.
As mentioned previously high blood pressure is not usually diagnosed after just a single high reading, unless it is very high. In most cases several readings over an extended period of time will be required to diagnose a raised blood pressure, and raised blood pressure on its own is not always an indicator to start blood pressure medicines. Blood pressure medicines are usually started after assessing multiple factors and these include but are not limited to:
Peak Pharmacy can now offer free NHS blood pressure checks to patients through our expanding community pharmacy network. Our NHS service is suitable for the following groups of people:
Typically, an appointment with one of our pharmacists to take your blood pressure may last around 10 minutes and will be carried out in one of our private consultation rooms where you can speak openly with our pharmacist about your health and ask questions about your blood pressure. We use only the latest blood pressure equipment and can even off ambulatory (24 hours) blood pressure.
Our blood pressure checks do not need to be booked in advance, and your readings will be sent to your GP to ensure your medical records are up to date.
The NHS recommends that those over 40 years old get a blood pressure check every 5 years. If you are at risk of cardiovascular disease then you should have a blood pressure check every year.
Want to check your blood pressure at home? No problem. Most of our pharmacies also sell a selection of high-quality blood pressure monitors suitable for use at home.