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BLOOD PRESSURE


FEATURE 03


Almost one in three of the UK population has high blood pressure (hypertension), although many of us remain unaware of this usually symptomless problem.


H


igher than ideal blood pressure is the most significant risk factor for death and disease in the UK and yet around


seven million people remain undiagnosed. The term relates to the pressure of


blood flow in the arteries. If this is too high, it puts additional stress on the heart and other organs, causing damage and leading to heart attacks, strokes and kidney problems. However, high blood pressure in itself it doesn’t have any obvious symptoms, meaning that many people remain unaware until they suddenly become seriously unwell.


THE IMPACT OF LIFESTYLE As age, weight and lifestyle are all known to have an impact on blood pressure, it is a good idea to have it checked regularly, especially if you are over 40. This can be done at a GP surgery, pharmacy or even at home. The British


www.imperialprivatehealthcare.co.uk


and Irish Hypertension Society has a list of recommended home monitors on their website, www.bhsoc.org. Blood pressure readings consist of


two numbers measured in mmHg (millimetres of mercury). The top number represents the highest level that your blood pressure reaches when your heart contracts. The lower number represents the lowest level of blood pressure as your heart relaxes between beats. In most cases, it should normally be below 140/90 (referred to as ‘140 over 90’) mmHg.


CONFIRMING YOUR DIAGNOSIS If you are concerned about your reading, then the next step is to have 24 hour ambulatory blood pressure monitoring (ABPM) to confirm any diagnosis. This involves wearing a small mobile blood pressure monitor connected to a cuff on your arm whilst going about your day. The machine takes a reading every half an hour


during the day and hourly at night. An average reading will determine whether you have a blood pressure problem, or whether it was temporarily high. For example, blood pressure may go up through the anticipation of the test in a doctor’s office, so-called ‘white coat hypertension’. This service is currently offered by Dr Neil Chapman at The Lindo Wing of St Mary’s Hospital. Dr Chapman will be able to confirm your diagnosis and make recommendations for your future care, whether it is recommending lifestyle changes for patients with mild hypertension, or medication for patients with a more severe problem. “With early diagnosis, high blood pressure can be easy to manage and lowering it can help prevent heart attacks and strokes”, said Dr Chapman. “We would strongly recommend that everyone takes an active interest in understanding their blood pressure numbers. Something so simple could turn out to be life-saving.” V


To enquire about the ambulatory blood pressure monitoring service,


please call +44 (0)20 3311 7700 or email imperial.private.healthcare@nhs.net


Imperial Private Healthcare


INDYPENDENZ/SHUTTERSTOCK.COM


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