Q. What is blood pressure?
A. Blood pressure, as the name suggests, is the pressure that the blood flowing through your arteries exerts on the artery walls. Your blood pressure will fluctuate throughout the day depending on what you are doing; for example when you are sleeping it will be at its lowest as there is little demand however when you are exercising your blood pressure will be at its highest as your muscles are demanding more oxygen and nutrients from your blood. Your heart is the pump that drives this system and it responds very rapidly to the changing demands placed on it. Ideally blood pressure should be below 120/80mmHg.
Q. What’s the problem with high blood pressure?
A. If your blood is pressure is elevated this can cause excess pressure on your arteries. This pressure will cause damage to the artery walls allowing cholesterol to deposit and ultimately narrowing of your arteries. Unfortunately if this happens over a long period of time it can significantly increase your risk of having a heart attack, stroke, or kidney disease.
Q. At what age should we be getting our blood pressure regularly checked?
A. Blood pressure should be checked every 2 years from age 18. If you have conditions such as diabetes or a strong family history of heart disease then blood pressure should be checked every 6-12 months.
Q. What are common causes for high blood pressure?
A. The cause of high blood pressure is not completely understood but we do know that salt, alcohol, obesity, family history and a lack of physical activity will all increase your risk of high blood pressure.
Q. What are the best ways of reducing blood pressure?
A. High blood pressure, like many conditions in the modern world, is often lifestyle related. The best way to reduce your blood pressure is to:
- eat a low salt diet with 5 serves of vegetables and 3 serves of fruit per day,
- try and steer clear of processed foods
- keeping your alcohol consumption to a minimum
- exercise for 30 minutes a day 5 days per week
Doing all these things should also help keep your weight in check. Unfortunately some things are out of your control such as family history and your age, that is why it is important to have your blood pressure checked regularly with your GP.
Q. What misconceptions about blood pressure do you commonly encounter with your patients?
A. People often think that they can tell when their blood pressure is high describing symptoms of nervousness, sweating, headache or facial flushing. The reality is high blood pressure generally does not cause any symptoms. This is why it is so important to be monitored regularly. Dr Robert Mathews is a General Practitioner from Cremorne Medical Practice. Dr Mathews is a highly sought after GP and if you would like to book in with him call 9908 2233 or visit www.cremornemedical.com.au