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Check your blood pressure

Having your blood pressure checked is a really simple and painless examination. The British Heart Foundation recommends that everyone should have their blood pressure measured at least every five years from the age of 20 onwards.

Nearly one in four adults in the UK now has high blood pressure, otherwise known as hypertension Having high blood pressure puts you at risk of having a heart attack or a stroke and, more worryingly, one in three people with high blood pressure are not being treated for 11

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Blood pressure is the amount of force your blood exerts against the walls of your arteries. To measure it, a cuff called a sphygmomanometer, which tooks rather like a swimming armband, is wrapped around the upper arm and inflated to stop the flow of blood into the arm.Thecuffts gradually deflated, so the doctor or nurse, listening with a stethoscope, can measure the blood pressure.

There are two figures given in a blood pressure reading: systolic, which refers to the pressure produced when the heart contracts to force the blood into the arteries; and diastolic, which is when the heart relaxes and allows the blood to flow back into it (torn the veins. The systolic pressure is nearty always higher than the diastolic pressure.

It Is the diastolic reading that is Important in diagnosing hypertension. Blood pressure varies from person to person, but higher than 150/90 (I.e. systolic/diastolic) is considered high.

Remember that anxiety can send your blood pressure up - even anxiety at having it measured. This, however, is a well-known phenomenon called Vvhite coat hypertension."As a rule, raised blood pressure is measured over several weeks, so any anxious moments can be averaged out.

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