Know Your Numbers

Dr Liz Walder | 16 May 2016

World Hypertension day, an annual initiative of the World Hypertension League (WHL) and the International Society of Hypertension (ISH) is taking place this week. This year’s theme is ‘Know your numbers’, with the goal of increasing awareness of high blood pressure around the world. The WHL and ISH is challenging all its members and partners to participate with rigorous blood pressure measurements in the community and clinical settings, and to report the results of the screening activities.

So what is hypertension?

Hypertension or high blood pressure has no real warning signs. Its symptoms are not something you would instantly recognise. Approximately 4 in 10 adults with high blood pressure remain undiagnosed.1

If your blood pressure is consistently higher than recommended levels, you may be diagnosed with hypertension. High blood pressure puts your heart and blood vessels under extra strain and over time this increases your risk of having a heart attack or a stroke.

The good news is hypertension is easy to screen for, the treatment is effective, and lifestyle changes may prevent it from happening in the first place or becoming worse.

How do I know if I have hypertension?
There is only one definitive way of diagnosing hypertension and this is by getting your blood pressure checked. Blood pressure is measured in ‘millimetres of mercury’ (mmHg). The two numbers you are given, e.g. 120 over 80 (written as 120/80mmHg) describe;

  1. the pressure that is needed to push your blood out of the heart into the arteries when your heart beats (systolic)
  2. the pressure of your blood when your heart relaxes between beats and fills with blood (diastolic)

Ideally, your blood preesure should be 120/80 mmHg or below. If your blood pressure is regularly 140/90 mmHg or above, you have high blood pressure and will need treatment to lower it.

So do you know your numbers?

If you are worried about your blood pressure or haven’t had it tested for a while, it may be a good idea to get it checked. It may keep put your mind at ease or reduce your risk of complications in the future.

For more information on hypertension, why it occurs, how it can be treated and things you can do to reduce your risk of hypertension in the future, you may find our patient e-book on ‘Hypertension’ useful. You can purchase a copy through Amazon.