Be blood pressure aware on World Health Day

WITH one in three adults worldwide having high blood pressure, the condition will be the theme of this year’s World Health Day on April 7.

High blood pressure is the biggest known cause of heart disease and stroke in Northern Ireland, so the Public Health Agency (PHA) is urging everyone to make positive lifestyle choices which can help to keep their blood pressure at a healthy level.

The condition, also known as hypertension, increases the risk of heart attacks, strokes and kidney failure. If left uncontrolled, high blood pressure can also cause blindness, irregularities of the heartbeat and heart failure. The risk of developing these complications is higher in the presence of other cardiovascular risk factors such as diabetes. A third of adults worldwide have high blood pressure.

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However, the proportion increases with age, from 1 in 10 people in their 20s and 30s to 5 in 10 people in their 50s. High blood pressure is a symptomless condition the only way to find out if you have the condition is to have regular blood pressure checks.

However, high blood pressure is both preventable and treatable. The risk of developing high blood pressure can be reduced by:

*reducing salt intake;

*eating a balanced diet;

*avoiding harmful use of alcohol;

*taking regular physical activity;

*maintaining a healthy body weight; and

*avoiding tobacco use.

Gerry Bleakney, Head of Health and Social Wellbeing Improvement, PHA said: “High blood pressure can lead to life-threatening conditions. It has no symptoms and no warning signs, it is the silent killer.

“The good news is that, once detected, high blood pressure can be successfully managed, either by making lifestyle changes or by taking medication.

“Staying active, eating more fruit and vegetables, and keeping salt intake to a minimum can all help to lower blood pressure.

“It’s a good idea to try to cut down on fatty foods too, as these not only make you put on weight, which raises blood pressure, but they also raise cholesterol levels, increasing your risk of heart attack or stroke further.

“High blood pressure is a major cause of heart disease and stroke in Northern Ireland, but it can be prevented by taking positive steps towards changing your lifestyle.”