According to Public Health England, more than one in four adults in England suffer with high blood pressure. They consider that more than a staggering 1.5 billion people around the world by 2025 will be affected by it. They say that it is the third biggest risk factor for premature death and disability in England after smoking and poor diet, and that at least half of all heart attacks and strokes are associated with high blood pressure. It is a major risk factor for chronic kidney disease, heart failure and dementia.
The ideal blood pressure range is between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg. High blood pressure or hypertension, is a reading of 140/90mmHg or higher.
The following factors can increase your risk of high blood pressure:
- Lack of physical exercise
- Excess alcohol consumption
- Being aged over 65
- Eating too much salt and not enough fruit and vegetables
- Family history.
For adults between the ages of 40 and 74, the free NHS Health Check enables them to have their blood pressure measured and for them to be given healthy lifestyle advice by their GP and other healthcare professionals.
New guidelines currently open for consultation by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) could result in thousands more people being offered blood pressure lowering drugs. Their current guidelines provide for medication to be offered if a person has a 20% or more risk of cardiovascular disease over the next ten years and is under 80 years of age. The proposals recommend lowering the percentage so that those people with a 10% risk will also be eligible for the treatment. The final guidance from NICE is due to be published in August.