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High Blood Pressure



It is very important to know how well your medication is controlling your blood pressure. If your blood pressure is lowered to or below the "target" reading for you then your risk of stroke in later life is much reduced.

The desirable or "target" blood pressure depends on what other medical problems you have.

For patients who are diabetic or who have coronary heart disease - 140/80 or less.

For everyone else - 150/90 or less.

If you are over 80 years old then sometimes we advise less "strict" targets as the evidence that rigorous blood pressure control over this age is worthwhile is lacking. Also, side effects from medication are more common.

If you don't understand what your blood pressure readings mean then we have several explanatory leaflets, please ask for one.

To know what your blood pressure is we will usually arrange for you to come to one of the nurse run blood pressure clinics - you will receive an appointment in the post, but these clinics do get very booked up. Appointments are usually made for every 6 months, but could be more frequent if your blood pressure control is poor. If you think you are more than 2 months overdue for a blood pressure check, please let us know.

For many people it can be a good idea to buy your own fully automatic blood pressure machine and take control yourself, rather than rely on appointments coming through the post. For easy-to-use, highly accurate readings, purchase an Omron 711 from the chemist (about 100). Take your blood pressure every 2 weeks at first, then, once stable, every month. Targets are as above. The odd high reading doesn't matter, especially if you re-check it after 5 minutes and it is lower. If over 1-2 months the average is above target, please let your doctor know. Consider using the phone in service to relieve the severe pressure on our appointment system. The receptionist will tell you the best time to speak to your doctor who can then enter your average reading on the computer and discuss any problems you might have.

Of course, if you think your tablets are giving you side effects then you should mention this to your doctor.

Finally, don't forget that blood pressure is just one risk factor for stroke in later life. To keep healthy:

  1. Exercise regularly. At least 3 times per week for 20-30 minutes. Do something you enjoy like cycling swimming, walking, sport, gardening - are all suitable.
  2. Don't smoke. If you cannot give up ask for help from one of our quit smoking clinics.
  3. Eat healthy foods which are rich in fibre and low in fat and salt - eat plenty of poultry and fish (if not veggie!).
  4. Alcohol is OK - 14 units a week for women and 21 -28 for men. A unit is half a pint of beer, one glass of wine or one (pub) measure of spirits.
  5. If you are under 70, know your cholesterol and HDL (good) cholesterol - if high you may need medication to lower it to safer levels. Ask for a blood test.
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