If you have high blood pressure, reducing it even a small amount can help lower your risk of a number of serious health conditions, including a stroke. The NHS advises all adults over 40 are advised to have their blood pressure checked at least every five years. Around a third of British adults have high blood pressure, according to Blood Pressure UK.
The Stroke Association (SA) says that high blood pressure is the “most important risk factor” for stroke, contributing to more than 50 percent of all strokes in the UK.
It usually has no symptoms so having it measured is the only way to tell if your blood pressure is high.
The charity notes that drinking too much alcohol raises your blood pressure.
The NHS says that you can “significantly reduce” your risk of having a stroke by eating a healthy diet, taking regular exercise, following the recommended guidelines on alcohol intake and not smoking.
High blood pressure puts a strain on all the blood vessels throughout your body, including the ones leading to the brain.
The SA notes: “This strain can damage your blood vessels, causing them to become harder and narrower, a condition called atherosclerosis.
“This makes a blockage more likely to occur, which could cause a stroke or TIA (transient ischaemic attack, sometimes called a mini stroke).”
It explains that you can also experience a stroke due to bleeding in or around the brain, which is a haemorrhagic stroke.
“The extra strain that high blood pressure puts on your blood vessels may cause a weakened blood vessel to burst inside the brain,” it states.
The NHS says that blood pressure readings between 120/80mmHg and 140/90mmHg could mean you’re at risk of developing high blood pressure if you do not take steps to keep your blood pressure under control.
Nonetheless, having a raised blood pressure reading in one test does not necessarily mean you have high blood pressure, as blood pressure can fluctuate throughout the day.
The systolic pressure is the force at which your heart pumps blood around your body The diastolic pressure is the resistance to the blood flow in the blood vessels.
Your blood pressure is usually measured using a sphygmomanometer, a digital electronic monitor.
NHS Inform says symptoms can occur in rare cases where a person has a very high blood pressure level.
The NHS says that if you are diagnosed with high blood pressure, your doctor may recommend taking one or more medicines to keep it under control.
It notes: “The medication recommended for you will depend on things like how high your blood pressure is and your age.”
The BHF says: “In a very 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.”
The prevalence of high blood pressure for adults in England in 2015 was 31 percent among men and 26 percent among women, with little change over the last few years, according to Public Health England (PHE).
The UK government says that it is projected to affect more than 1.5 billion people around the world by 2025.