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Known as the "silent killer", high blood pressure rarely has obvious symptoms.

Around 30% of people in England have high blood pressure but many don't know it. If left untreated high blood pressure in!reases your risk of a heart atta!k or stroke. "he only way of knowing there is a problem is to have your blood pressure measured. All adults should have their blood pressure !he!ked at least every five years. If you haven#t had yours measured or you don#t know what your blood pressure reading is ask your $% to !he!k it for you.

What is high blood pressure?

&lood pressure measures how strongly blood presses against the walls of your arteries 'large blood vessels( as it is pumped around your body by your heart. If this pressure is too high it puts a strain on your arteries and your heart whi!h makes it more likely that you will suffer a heart atta!k a stroke or kidney disease. &lood pressure is measured in millimetres of mer!ury 'mm)g( and it is re!orded as two figures*

systolic pressure* the pressure of the blood when your heart beats to pump blood out diastolic pressure* the pressure of the blood when your heart rests in between beats

+or e,ample if your $% says your blood pressure is "-.0 over /0" or -.00/0mm)g it means you have a systoli! pressure of -.0mm)g and a diastoli! pressure of /0mm)g. 1ou are said to have high blood pressure 'medi!ally known as hypertension( if readings on separate o!!asions !onsistently show your blood pressure to be -.00/0mm)g or higher. A blood pressure reading below -30020mm)g is !onsidered to be normal.

Who is most at risk?

1our !han!es of having high blood pressure in!rease as you get older. "here is often no !lear !ause of high blood pressure but you are at in!reased risk if you*

are overweight have a relative with high blood pressure are of Afri!an or 3aribbean des!ent eat a lot of salt don't eat enough fruit and vegetables don't do enough e,er!ise

drink a lot of !offee 'or other !affeine4based drinks( drink a lot of al!ohol are aged over 56

If you fall into any of the groups listed above !onsider making !hanges to your lifestyle to lower your risk of high blood pressure. Also !onsider having your blood pressure !he!ked more often ideally about on!e a year.

Prevention and treatment

1ou !an take steps to prevent high blood pressure by*

losing weight if you need to e,er!ising regularly eating a healthy diet !utting ba!k if you drink a lot of al!ohol stopping smoking !utting down on salt and !affeine

+ind out more about how to prevent high blood pressure. If your blood pressure is found to be high it will need to be !losely monitored until it is brought under !ontrol. 1our do!tor will usually suggest !hanges to your lifestyle and sometimes medi!ation to a!hieve this. +ind out more about how blood pressure is treated.