Most of us have had our blood pressure taken by our GP or nurse - but what exactly is blood pressure? Blood pressure measures how hard our blood presses against the walls of our arteries as it travels around our body. If it presses too strongly then our blood pressure is too high putting us at risk of heart disease and strokes. If it presses too gently then our blood pressure will be low and may make us feel light-headed. Read on to find out how to keep your blood pressure in check.
Does high blood pressure increase my risk of dying early?
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has clear guidelines on hypertension (high blood pressure). Health providers are told to monitor patients whose blood pressure is recorded at 140/90 mmHG or higher. If you fall into this category you'll be offered something called ambulatory blood pressure monitoring (ABPM) which will measure your blood pressure readings over 24 hours to give a more accurate reading. The same guidance explains that each 2 mmHG rise in systolic blood pressure (the top reading) is associated with a 7% increase of death from heart disease and a 10% increase in risk of death from stroke. Good reasons indeed to take blood pressure seriously.
Radio waves may help lower blood pressure
If you have high blood pressure that has not responded well to medication you may want to keep tabs on the Symplicity HTN-2 study. The name may not be catchy but the results are interesting. The study is testing lowering blood pressure by directing short bursts of radio waves at nerves surrounding the kidneys. The results so far, of this ongoing study, published in the American Heart Association journal suggest that 'renal denervation' (as it's called) does appear to reduce drug-resistant high blood pressure. What's more the treatment does not appear to damage the kidneys or cause any long-term damage.