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Know Your Numbers Week 2017 highlights the importance of keeping your blood pressure in check

Posted: 18/09/2017

Know Your Numbers Week (KYN2017) takes place between 18 and 24 September 2017.

What is KYN2017?

The event has been established to encourage people to find out their own blood pressure figures, and there are a number of pressure stations set up around the country to enable us to do just that.

Why is it important?

High blood pressure contributes to over 60% of strokes although over nine out of ten strokes are preventable. In addition it is a major risk factor for:

  • heart attacks
  • kidney disease
  • diabetes
  • dementia
  • erectile dysfunction
  • eyesight problems (retinopathy)

In most cases, high blood pressure has no symptoms at all, and frequently the first time a patient is aware of it is following one of these serious problems. High blood pressure, or hypertension, is often called the ‘silent killer’ as a result.

So unless we visit the doctor to have our blood pressure measured, we may not realise that we have this condition. It’s estimated that up to 7 million of us have high blood pressure but are not conscious of this.

What do the numbers mean?

When you have your blood pressure monitored, you will get two figures, eg 120/80. This is measured in mmHg, or millimetres of mercury and is the pressure that your blood is exerting when being pumped round the body, ie how far it would push a column of mercury in the sphygmomanometer, the device used to measure the pressure.

The first figure is the systolic figure, which is when the heart has contracted and is pushing at its peak. The second is the diastolic pressure, when the heart is relaxed.

The European guidelines suggest that figures of 120/80mmHg are optimal, and anything over 139/89mmHg is abnormal.

What can I do about it?

Risk factors for hypertension include:

  • smoking
  • being physically inactive
  • being overweight
  • drinking excessively
  • stress at work or at home
  • men are at greater risk than women

The good news is that high blood pressure can be managed in many cases with some simple alterations to diet and lifestyle. Of course some people require medication to help reduce their blood pressure but often basic changes that perhaps we all think we will get round to at some point can make a difference. These changes can include something as simple as eating more fruit and vegetables, doing some moderate exercise and reducing alcohol intake. Stopping smoking and maintaining a healthy weight are also of huge benefit.

If you ‘know your numbers’ then this could be the first step to making these lifestyle changes and as with many chronic problems, the sooner the issue is identified, the better the long term outlook.

Where can I find a pressure station?

Click here to find a local pressure station where you can get to know your numbers. Pressure stations are available all over the country including local pharmacies, supermarkets, GP surgeries and leisure centres.

What happens if I have high blood pressure?

Staff at the pressure station will give you full advice on the significance of your figures and the next steps you should take.

Where can I get more information?

Know Your Numbers Week 2017
Blood Pressure UK
Lifestyle Changes You Can Make
British Hypertension Society
British Heart Foundation

Emma McCheyne of Penningtons Manches’ clinical negligence team said: “We deal with a wide variety of cases involving strokes and heart attacks. These patients are often already very unwell, and of course it is crucial that they are treated appropriately. However a huge number of strokes and heart attacks are preventable in the first place, and getting to know their numbers will allow patients to make lifestyle changes, or visit their GPs and put in place a tailored regime to reduce the risk of these problems. We would encourage everyone to ‘know your numbers’.”

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Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP