High blood pressure affects one in four people in the UK, according to the NHS. But because symptoms are rarely noticeable, the best way to find out if you have it is to have your reading regularly checked. A GP or pharmacist can measure blood pressure, or monitors to use at home are also available. If high blood pressure if left untreated, the arteries can thicken and harden, increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke.
But some simple lifestyle changes can help keep blood pressure in check and prevent the condition developing.
Bupa recommends six lifestyle changes – from losing weight to cutting down on alcohol.
Losing excess weight can help lower blood pressure.
Bupa says: “Aim to get your waist down to less than 102cm (40 inches, if you’re a man) or less than 88cm (35 inches, if you’re a woman).”
Eating a healthy, balanced diet can also keep blood pressure in check.
The health organisation advises to eat “at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day”.
It adds: “It’s also good to eat at least one portion of oily fish, such as salmon, sardines and mackerel, every week.”
Being physically active on a regular basis can help lower blood pressure.
It notes: “Things like weightlifting and weight training can make high blood pressure worse so may be unsuitable.”
Eating less salt is key to eating a healthy diet and lowering blood pressure.
It recommends: “You should have less than 5g (one teaspoon) a day.”
Cutting down on alcohol is also important. Government guidelines advise men and women not to drink more than 14 units of alcohol a week on a regular basis.
Drinking as much as 14 units a week should be spread evenly over three or more days.
Drinking less coffee can lower blood pressure.
The health organisation adds other caffeinated drinks like cola comes under this.
A certain drink has been found to lower high blood pressure.