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Sept 4th 2018

Four in five adults at risk of early death, heart-age test shows

Doctors call figures for England alarming and urge people to adopt healthier lifestyles

·       How do I find out my heart age?

·       Four out of five adults have hearts that are more damaged than they should be for their age, putting them at greater risk of early death, a major study has shown.

·       The disclosure prompted calls for Britons to ditch their unhealthy lifestyles and monitor their own health more closely in order to reduce their risk of having a heart attack or stroke.

·       Leading doctors said the number of people with a heart “older” than their actual age was “really alarming” and should spur people to quit smoking, eat better and exercise more. The revelation reflects in part Britain’s high levels of obesity and physical inactivity and previously high smoking rate.

·       Almost four-fifths (78%) of more than 1.9 million people in England who have taken Public Health England’s new online “heart age test” were found to have a heart that was older than their chronological age.

·       A third (34%) of those who answered the 16-question survey turned out to have a heart age that was at least five years above their actual age, while for one in seven (14%), it was at least 10 years higher.

·       The government’s public health agency warned that anyone with a heart age older than their real age was at risk of “an early grave or ending up very disabled in later life”. It wants everyone over the age of 30 to take the test and, if necessary, take urgent action to reduce their risk.

·       “These are really alarming figures that will cause great anxiety for many,” said Prof Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners. “But rather than people panicking, we hope this well-intentioned initiative by Public Health England will serve as a wake-up call for us all to be more aware of our general health and prompt changes that will help us to live longer and healthier lives.”

·       Prof Jamie Waterall, PHE’s national lead for cardiovascular disease, said: “It’s worrying that so many people are at risk of dying unnecessarily from heart attack and stroke. [But] I was unsurprised … given that we have a population that’s becoming more obese and we have major problems with things like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, alcohol and physical inactivity.

·        “We need the public to understand the impact that all that’s having on their risk of having a heart attack or stroke. Clearly, many people need to make major changes to their lifestyles.” Up to 50 lives a day in England could be saved if people adopted healthier behaviours, because 80% of heart attacks and strokes are preventable, he stressed.

·       People also need to take much greater individual responsibility for monitoring their own health, especially their blood pressure and cholesterol levels – both key markers of overall health –experts said. That could include visiting a pharmacy, seeing a nurse or doctor at their GP surgery, or taking the NHS Health Check for adults in England aged 40 to 74.

·       However, Waterall urged people who receive bad news about their heart as a result of taking the new test to use it as a prompt to make changes that many have probably previously considered but not implemented.

·       “The shock of having a heart attack is pretty devastating. When I worked as a nurse on a coronary care unit, most people who had a heart attack wanted to turn back time and to have lived healthier lives. For example, often people talked about wanting to stop smoking but hadn’t got round to it, so the inevitable had happened.

·       “It’s never too late – or too early – to make changes. The number one thing to do is quit smoking, if you are a smoker. But taking more exercise, moderating your alcohol intake, losing weight and taking control of your blood pressure and cholesterol will all help,” he said.

·       Overall men’s hearts are more fragile than women’s, relative to their age, analysis of the 1.9m test results found. Among women, 19% of those in their 60s, and 33% of those in their 70s had a heart at least 10 years older than their actual age. However, among men in the same age groups, the proportions were much higher: 31% and 42% respectively.

·       Ashleigh Doggett, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said: “Millions of people in the UK are unknowingly living at high risk of a heart attack or stroke due to their lifestyle, their family history of heart disease, or undiagnosed conditions including high blood pressure and cholesterol.

·       “Simple lifestyle changes such as increasing physical exercise, eating a healthy Mediterranean diet and cutting back on alcohol can all help reduce your heart age. If people are concerned about their heart age, they should speak to their GP.”

·       The 16 questions solicit information about the person’s age, weight, lifestyle and history of conditions that can weaken the heart, such as diabetes. “The test is designed to prompt people who may look outwardly healthy to think about the health of their inner organs as well,” PHE said.

Aug 28th 2018

Majority of heart failure cases being missed by GPs, study claims

Two thirds of cases of deadly heart failure are being missed by GPs - amid warnings that an NHS target culture is fuelling a “medical emergency”.

Leading cardiac experts said women and older patients were faring worst, amid “dangerous” failures to spot the life-threatening condition which can be treated with cheap pills.

The major study of almost 100,000 NHS heart failure patients found the vast majority were only diagnosed after they end up being admitted to hospital - by which time they were more likely to be gravely ill.

The Oxford University research, which tracked patients for more than a decade, found a steep decline in the proportion of cases being identified by GPs.

The study found that in 2014, just 36 per cent of patients with heart failure were diagnosed by their GP, or after referral by their family doctor to an outpatient clinic. This was a fall from 56 per cent in 2002.

Researchers said the NHS “pay for performance” scheme for GPs introduced during the period appeared to be contributing to the failings - because key tests are not linked to financial rewards.

Prof Martin Cowie, Professor of Cardiology at National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College London, said lives were being cut short by a litany of failings in diagnosis and treatment.

He said: “This is a medical emergency. We need to wake up and get our house in order.”

Even after being discharged from hospital, just 14 per cent of heart failure patients received the follow-up care they should have received from GPs, the research found - a drop from 20 per cent in 2002.

And the vast majority of patients were on far too low doses of drugs which cost as little as 3 pence a day, the research, presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress in Munich found.

Almost one million people in the UK suffer from heart failure, a condition which occurs when the heart muscle is too weak to pump blood round the body, causing breathlessness, fatigue and premature death.

Since 2010, GPs have been advised to offer patients at risk of the condition a specific blood test, which costs the NHS about £20 each. But in 2014, just 23 per cent of patients got this check, the research reveals.

Prof Cowie, one of Britain’s leading experts on heart failure, urged GPs to “get the basics right”.

“Usually it takes the patient going back several times, or getting so bad that they are admitted to hospital,” he said.

“We need a spotlight shone on these issues,” the heart expert said. “We are failing patients.”

Separate data shows that more than one third of those diagnosed after being admitted to hospital are dead within a year - compared to one in five cases among those detected earlier.

The new research, funded by the British Heart Foundation (BHF), shows elderly people and women waited longest for a diagnosis, respectively 15 and 9 per cent less likely than other patients to be diagnosed without hospital admission.

Researcher Nathalie Conrad, from Oxford University, said the introduction of the new pay system for GPs in 2004 appeared to have contributed to the decline.

“The system is not designed to really incentivise GPs to do screening of heart failure and to actively pick up on patients who come from hospital,” she warned.

Next month Nice will issue new guidance, reminding GPs to ensure patients at risk of heart failure get the right checks. Health officials are so concerned about failings in cardiac care that they intend to make it a priority of the NHS 10 year plan, due to be published later this year.

Dr Mike Holmes, vice chairman of the Royal College of GPs, said early symptoms of the condition could be hard to spot within a standard 10-minute consultation.

A spokesman for NHS England said the study had shown some improvements in ensuring patients got the right investigations, when warning signs were spotted.

Aug 25th 2018

Living room temperature may affect blood pressure, study says

The temperature of people’s homes may impact their blood pressure, a new study suggests.

Those with colder homes are more likely to suffer from high blood pressure, experts said.

The study, led by experts from University College London (UCL), examined data on people’s blood pressure and the ambient temperature in people’s living rooms.

Information on more than 4,600 adults who participated in the 2014 Health Survey for England was analysed.

After comparing blood pressure readings of people in their own homes with temperature readings, researchers found that there was a statistically significant link between indoor temperature and a person’s blood pressure.

With a decrease in temperature, there was an increase in blood pressure.

Blood pressure readings consist of two figures given together: systolic pressure, the pressure when your heart pushes blood out, and diastolic pressure, the pressure when your heart rests between beats.

According to NHS Choices, ideal blood pressure is considered to be between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg

The new study, published in the Journal of Hypertension, found that every 1C decrease in indoor temperature was associated with rises of 0.48 mmHg in systolic blood pressure and 0.45 mmHg in diastolic blood pressure.

The authors suggested that turning up the thermostat may help manage hypertension.

“Our research has helped to explain the higher rates of hypertension, as well as potential increases in deaths from stroke and heart disease, in the winter months, suggesting indoor temperatures should be taken more seriously in diagnosis and treatment decisions, and in public health messages,” said senior author Dr Stephen Jivraj of UCL’s Institute of Epidemiology and Health Care.

“Among other diet and lifestyle changes people can make to reduce high blood pressure, our findings suggest that keeping homes a bit warmer could also be beneficial.”

During bouts of particularly cold weather officials issue warnings to people whose health is particularly at risk, including young children, older people and those with heart or lung conditions.

Official advice urges people to heat their homes to at least 18C (64.4F).

Aug 4th 2018

High BMI in overweight young people can lead to future heart problems, study shows

Overweight young adults could be storing up heart problems in older age, a pioneering study said today. 

The Bristol university research is the first to find a “causal link” between body mass index (BMI) in otherwise healthy teenagers or twentysomethings and subsequent problems with cardiovascular health.

It used data from a groundbreaking project set up in Avon in the 1990s that enrolled more than 14,000 pregnant women and has followed their health, and that of their children, since.

The study, which also involved University College London, found increased weight in young adults is likely to cause higher blood pressure and a thickening of the heart muscle, which can increase the risk of heart attack or stroke.

They had higher systolic and diastolic blood pressure — the pressure against artery walls when the heart beats and rests — and an enlarged left ventricle, the heart’s main pumping chamber.

Dr Kaitlin Wade, a researcher at Bristol, said: “Our results support the idea that having a healthy BMI level from a young age is likely to prevent later heart disease … The whole idea is that there is not an age where it is too early to start reducing your BMI or weight in order to try to prevent the development of cardiovascular disease down the line.”

Researchers looked at links between BMI, blood pressure and heart rate in more than 3,000 17-year-olds who are part of the Children of the Nineties study. Detailed MRI and echocardiogram scans were then done on an unrelated group of 400 21-year-olds at UCL. People with a BMI of 25 to 29.9 are classed as overweight while those with a reading of 30 or above are obese. 

Dr Wade said: “Modern genetics— the study of an organism’s DNA — allows us to study the causes of disease more quickly and cheaply, and the availability of genetic data in the Children of the Nineties study means we can overcome previous limitations of traditional studies. 

“There are clear messages for heart health in young people from our findings and we hope that they lead to increased efforts to tackle elevated BMI throughout life.”

Chris Allen, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, which part-funded the study, said: “Being overweight or obese causes increased blood pressure and damaging changes to the structure of the heart, which increases the risk of heart problems. 

“This research makes it clear that it is never too early to start thinking about your heart health, as being an unhealthy weight can damage the structure of your heart, even in early adulthood. Maintaining a healthy weight at any stage of life, gives you the best chance of a healthy heart and circulation in later life.”

 

July 25th 2018

There are many people today who were unaware that their blood pressure is dangerously high, you may be one of these, if you do not want to go to the doctor. There are many chemists that will offer this service and check your blood pressure for you.

Do not delay having a high blood pressure will cause you a lot of problems as you get older, but you can avoid this with simple medication to adjust your blood pressure. 

Take this good advice and get your blood pressure checked as soon as possible.

May 18th 2018

Tea or a pill preferred over running to combat high blood pressure risk

People are more likely to choose taking a pill or drinking a cup of tea over exercise to stay healthy, a new study has found.

The research by Yale University found one in 14 would not take exercise even if it meant them having an extra five years of life, say scientists.

A survey suggests that only a monthly jab is less appealing than regular physical activity when it comes to combating high blood pressure .

Referred to by doctors as the “silent killer” hypertension affects more than one in four adults in the UK.

It causes around half of all heart attacks and strokes and can be prevented or reduced simply by taking regular exercise.

Brisk walks, jogging or cycling are especially recommended.

In the first survey of its kind heart specialists asked 1,384 men and women about their willingness to adopt any of four 'treatments' to gain an extra month, year or five years of life.

Most were under 45 and had high blood pressure.

Pills came out on top ahead of a daily cup of tea, exercise and monthly or twice yearly injections.

Unsurprisingly, the US participants were more favourable towards each when the benefit was greater.

But some said they would not adopt any - even if it meant living for another five years.

Almost eight in ten (79 per cent) were willing to take a pill for an extra month of life - rising to 90 and 96 per cent for another year and five years, respectively.

The results were almost as high for tea which is sometimes advised because it is rich in antioxidants - 78, 91 and 96 per cent, respectively.

But when it came to exercise there was an overall drop to 63, 84 and 96 per cent, respectively.

A monthly jab was the least preferred option - 51, 74 and 88 per cent, respectively.

However, if it was just one injection every six months this rose to 68, 85 and 93 per cent, respectively.

The study presented at an American Heart Association meeting in Arlington, Virginia, also found at least one in five respondents wanted gains in life expectancy beyond what any of the individual interventions could provide.

Lead author Erica Spatz, assistant professor of cardiovascular medicine at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, said the aim was to find out how people weigh the benefits of treatment options against its inconvenience.

What blood pressure readings mean

Prof Spatz said: "Our findings demonstrate people naturally assign different weights to the pluses and minuses of interventions to improve cardiovascular health.

"I believe we need to tap into this framework when we are talking with patients about options to manage their blood pressure.

"We are good about discussing side effects, but rarely do we find out if other inconveniences or burdens may be impacting a person's willingness to take a lifelong medication or to exercise regularly."

High blood pressure is a leading risk factor for heart and blood vessel, or cardiovascular, disease. It is dubbed the silent killer because it causes no symptoms.

To prevent high blood pressure, the American Heart Association recommends getting regular physical activity, in addition to other lifestyle changes.

These include eating a healthy diet, limiting alcohol, managing stress, maintaining a healthy weight and quitting smoking.

It is also important to work with a healthcare provider and to properly take blood pressure reducing medications, if prescribed.

May 9th 2018

May Is National High Blood Pressure Education Month: Understanding Blood Pressure

Understanding blood pressure is key to keeping it at a healthy level.

This National Blood Pressure Education Month, here are some of the things that people should know about blood pressure.

What Is Blood Pressure?

Every time the heart beats, blood is pumped into the arteries, pushing blood onto its walls. The force by which blood is pushed onto the artery walls is called blood pressure, and it is determined using two measures: systolic pressure and diastolic pressure.

Systolic pressure is measured when the heart beats and blood pressure is highest, and diastolic pressure is measured when the heart rests between beats and blood pressure falls. Together, these two numbers are read as the patient's blood pressure measurement, with the systolic pressure over the diastolic pressure.

In regard to which measurement is more important, systolic blood pressure is typically given more attention as it is considered a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease in people over 50 years old. This is because as people age, systolic blood pressure steadily rises as a result of artery stiffness, plaque build-up, and increased incidences of cardiovascular disease.

That said, an elevation in either systolic or diastolic blood pressure may be used as evidence to diagnose high blood pressure.

High And Low Blood Pressure

Generally, 120/80 mm Hg or lower is considered normal blood pressure, but any lower than 90/60 may be considered hypotension or low blood pressure. This may be caused by medications, standing too quickly, or certain medical conditions, but it only becomes problematic when it caused dizziness, fainting, or even shock. For some people, low blood pressure may even be normal.

On the other hand, measurements of 140/90 mm Hg or higher is considered high blood pressure or hypertension. This condition is problematic because it usually does not have obvious symptoms but may cause kidney failure, stroke, heart attack, and heart failure.

Hypertensive patients are often prescribed with hypertension medications and are advised to make lifestyle changes.

Blood pressure higher than 180/120 mm Hg is considered a hypertensive crisis, and the patient must be rushed to a health care provider immediately.

Blood Pressure Reading Accuracy

A recently published study revealed that blood pressure measurements that are taken out of doctors' clinics are not exactly accurate. In fact, 39 percent of the people with normal blood pressure readings at the clinic registered high blood pressure readings out of the clinic. This inaccuracy is rather problematic because it prevents the patients from getting the proper health care that's specific to their needs.

On the part of the patients, some of the things that can alter blood pressure reading are slouching, having a full bladder, talking during the procedure, having crossed legs, and if the arm is unsupported during measurement. Such simple errors can add up to 10 points to blood pressure readings.

"Knowing how to measure blood pressure accurately at home, and recognizing mistakes in the physician's office, can help you manage your pressure and avoid unnecessary medication changes," said Michael Hochman, M.D., MPH of the American Heart Association's Blood Pressure Task Force.

 

April 19th 2018

Genes behind deadly heart condition found, scientists say

Scientists say they have identified genes that cause a deadly heart condition that can only be cured by transplants of the heart or lungs.

Pulmonary arterial hypertension kills 50% of those affected within five years, but little was known about what caused the condition in some people.

Now experts say they have discovered five genes that cause the illness.

The findings could lead to earlier detection of the disease and ultimately new treatments, researchers say.

Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) currently affects around 6,500 people in the UK and causes the arteries carrying blood from the heart to their lungs to stiffen and thicken, ultimately leading to heart failure.

It is often diagnosed in people who have other heart or lung conditions, but it can affect people of any age and in about a fifth of people there is no obvious cause.

The only "cure" is a transplant of the heart and particularly the lungs, but there is a waiting list for organ transplants and the body will often ultimately reject them, particularly in the case of lungs.

For this latest research, published in Nature Communications, scientists carried out the largest ever genetic study of the disease by analysing the genomes - the unique sequence of a person's DNA - of more than 1,000 PAH patients for whom the cause of the illness was unknown.

They found that mutations in five genes were responsible for causing the illness in these people, including in four genes that were not previously known to be involved in the disease.

In people with the condition these genes fail to effectively produce the proteins that are required for the structure, function and regulation of the body's tissues, researchers found.

Nick Morrell, the lead author of the paper and professor at the British Heart Foundation, told BBC News: "Identifying the nature of these new genes and mutations in the new genes tells you what causes the disease.

"It allows you to design and come up with potential new ways of treating the disease because you have really well-grounded knowledge about what's actually causing it in cases where you find these mutations," he explained.

Wendy Callaghan, from west London, was diagnosed with PAH in 2013 after doctors became concerned about her persistent chest infection.

Her sister died from the condition 27 years ago at the age of 36, and her grandmother also died from a similar heart condition.

Wendy, who participated in the trial, has been told she has the genetic version of the illness and is now waiting to learn if her daughters and grandchildren have inherited the same deadly condition.

The 58-year-old said: "Even children can get it. People should be more aware of it and look out for the signs and persist with it if they think their child is not well.

"Especially as it does run in families, some people if they don't know they've got it could be passing those genes on to the next generation," Wendy added.

The research was part of a pilot study for the 100,000 Genomes Project - a huge initiative focused on understanding the genetics of cancer and rare diseases.

Prof Morrell said such genetic studies were helping to transform our understanding of rare diseases.

He said: "Often people with rare diseases go to lots of different specialists, everybody is scratching their head a bit, we don't know what the cause is, therefore it's hard to find a treatment for it.

"Now being able to [genetically] sequence people with rare diseases at scale allows you to push the genetics into the clinic and into the families, and it also gives you a cause for the disease which you can potentially do something about," he said.

Darren Griffin, professor of genetics at the University of Kent, who was not involved in the study, said the research was "one of the big successes" of the 100,000 Genome Project.

He said: "By studying the role of rare genetic variation in diseases, we come to a better understanding of the disease pathology itself, which can aid in early diagnosis and in tailoring treatment regimes."

 

April 9th 2018

Tea or a pill preferred over running to combat high blood pressure risk

People are more likely to choose taking a pill or drinking a cup of tea over exercise to stay healthy, a new study has found.

The research by Yale University found one in 14 would not take exercise even if it meant them having an extra five years of life, say scientists.

A survey suggests that only a monthly jab is less appealing than regular physical activity when it comes to combating high blood pressure .

Referred to by doctors as the “silent killer” hypertension affects more than one in four adults in the UK.

It causes around half of all heart attacks and strokes and can be prevented or reduced simply by taking regular exercise.

Brisk walks, jogging or cycling are especially recommended.

In the first survey of its kind heart specialists asked 1,384 men and women about their willingness to adopt any of four 'treatments' to gain an extra month, year or five years of life.

Most were under 45 and had high blood pressure.

Pills came out on top ahead of a daily cup of tea, exercise and monthly or twice yearly injections.

Unsurprisingly, the US participants were more favourable towards each when the benefit was greater.

But some said they would not adopt any - even if it meant living for another five years.

Almost eight in ten (79 per cent) were willing to take a pill for an extra month of life - rising to 90 and 96 per cent for another year and five years, respectively.

The results were almost as high for tea which is sometimes advised because it is rich in antioxidants - 78, 91 and 96 per cent, respectively.

But when it came to exercise there was an overall drop to 63, 84 and 96 per cent, respectively.

A monthly jab was the least preferred option - 51, 74 and 88 per cent, respectively.

However, if it was just one injection every six months this rose to 68, 85 and 93 per cent, respectively.

The study presented at an American Heart Association meeting in Arlington, Virginia, also found at least one in five respondents wanted gains in life expectancy beyond what any of the individual interventions could provide.

Lead author Erica Spatz, assistant professor of cardiovascular medicine at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, said the aim was to find out how people weigh the benefits of treatment options against its inconvenience.

What blood pressure readings mean

Prof Spatz said: "Our findings demonstrate people naturally assign different weights to the pluses and minuses of interventions to improve cardiovascular health.

"I believe we need to tap into this framework when we are talking with patients about options to manage their blood pressure.

"We are good about discussing side effects, but rarely do we find out if other inconveniences or burdens may be impacting a person's willingness to take a lifelong medication or to exercise regularly."

High blood pressure is a leading risk factor for heart and blood vessel, or cardiovascular, disease. It is dubbed the silent killer because it causes no symptoms.

To prevent high blood pressure, the American Heart Association recommends getting regular physical activity, in addition to other lifestyle changes.

These include eating a healthy diet, limiting alcohol, managing stress, maintaining a healthy weight and quitting smoking.

It is also important to work with a healthcare provider and to properly take blood pressure reducing medications, if prescribed.

There is a natural cure at CDB see right of page


March 26th 2018

Get your Blood Pressure checked asap

Tackle high blood pressure

High blood pressure accounts for at least half of strokes in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Mar 1st 2018 Stroke information

How a Mediterranean lunch could prevent a stroke and save your life

Strokes are the fourth biggest killer in the UK after heart disease, cancer and respiratory disease, and recent statistics don’t make for happy reading. 

A report from Queen Mary University of London and the London School of Economics estimates that strokes will claim 187,000 lives a year by 2035, an increase of almost two-thirds on today’s numbers.

But experts say around 114,000 of those deaths could be prevented through greater awareness of the risks, along with better treatment of the two main triggers – high blood pressure and atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat).

Dominic Brand, director of marketing and external affairs at the Stroke Association , which commissioned the report, says: “The reasons for the increase are driven mainly by the fact we have an ageing population and the risk of stroke is higher over the age of 45.

"As we age, arteries become harder and are more likely to get blocked.

“But research has also shown many strokes are preventable. We know that if you’re overweight, drink too much alcohol, smoke, don’t get enough exercise and have an unhealthy diet, your risk increases, so it’s important to address those issues.”

Tackle high blood pressure

High blood pressure accounts for at least half of strokes in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

And while 9.5 million people have been diagnosed and receive treatment, a further 5.5 million people in England alone are thought to have the condition without knowing, leaving them at the highest risk of stroke.

So the message is: be proactive and get it checked, which you can do at pharmacies, as well as your GP’s surgery.

“If your blood pressure is high, lowering it is the single most important thing you can do to prevent both types of stroke: ischaemic [where a blockage such as a clot cuts off blood supply to the brain] and haemorrhagic [a bleed in or around the brain],” explains Peter Rothwell, Professor of Neurology at Oxford University.

“If you have a family history of high blood pressure, then it’s worth measuring it in your 30s and 40s to make sure it’s not following the same path as your parents or siblings.

“Blood pressure changes naturally with age but, generally speaking, it should be less than 130 over 80.

“One of the problems is that it’s so variable and the variability itself predicts strokes. One day you might catch it at a low, but it’ll be high at other times.

“The easiest thing is to buy a monitor and check it at home from time to time to get multiple measurements, which you can discuss with your doctor.

“If the average reading is always on the low side, that’s fine.

“Some blood pressure monitors cost less than £20, which is a small investment if it makes a big difference to your risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke.”

Get an irregular pulse checked

A type of irregular heartbeat called atrial fibrillation (AF) makes you five times more likely to suffer a stroke, as a clot can form in the heart and make its way to the brain where it can block an artery.

“If you have a stroke as a result of AF, it usually leads to greater disability and higher incidence of death,” says Dominic Brand.

“So if you notice repeated episodes of palpitations and other symptoms such as fatigue, breathlessness and chest pain, then see your GP who can check your pulse and refer you for more tests if necessary.”

Professor Rothwell adds: “Anticoagulant (blood thinning) drugs are very effective for AF, so it’s a treatable condition.

"Lifestyle can play a part in that high blood pressure can lead to AF, so if you’re controlling blood pressure by exercising regularly and keeping your weight down, then you’re less likely to develop AF.”

Manage your lifestyle

Tackling the lifestyle issues that lead to high blood pressure will bring down your stress level.

Quit cigarettes Smoking damages arteries and makes blood more likely to clot, as well as raising blood pressure. Says Professor Rothwell: “If you have a cigarette, it causes your blood pressure to rise over the next 10 minutes.” Stopping, no matter how old you are or how long you’ve smoked, will reduce your risk of stroke. Call the NHS Smokefree helpline on 0800 022 4332 for help with quitting.

Cut back on booze Drinking too much alcohol raises blood pressure, and binge drinking is particularly dangerous as it causes blood pressure to rise very quickly. As a general rule, the Department of Health recommends not drinking more than 14 units of alcohol a week and to avoid drinking a lot in a single session. One unit is equivalent to a single measure of spirits, while an average pint of lager and a medium glass of wine (175ml) contain two units.

Embrace the Mediterranean way This will help to lower blood pressure, manage your weight and control diabetes. Professor Rothwell says: “A Mediterranean diet with lots of fruit and veg, and not an excessive amount of red meat, seems to be a good thing in terms of cancer, heart disease and stroke prevention.” Cut back on salt as high intakes have been shown to raise blood pressure. Don’t have more than a teaspoon a day and be mindful there’s lots of salt in processed foods. Cut down on saturated fat, too, as this raises cholesterol levels, causing fatty deposits to build up in your arteries.

Give yourself a 30-minute active makeover You don’t have to start running marathons. Research shows regular, moderate exercise can reduce your risk of stroke by 27%. Aim for 30 minutes of activity at least five times a week and choose any form of exercise, as long as it increases your heart rate and makes you feel warm and out of breath.

Lose weight if you need to Being overweight puts you at risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and Type 2 diabetes, all of which raise your risk of stroke. If you carry weight around your middle you’re more likely to develop high blood pressure and diabetes. You should aim to lose weight if you’re a woman with a waist measurement of 80cm (31.5in) or more, or a man with a measurement of 94cm (37in) or more.

Find ways to de-stress Studies show long-term stress is associated with a higher risk of stroke and heart disease. “There is a link,” agrees Professor Rothwell. “One of the possibilities is that it causes peaks in blood pressure, plus if we’re going through a period of stress, we tend to drink more alcohol, eat badly and we might smoke.

“It’s also been shown that the biochemistry of the body changes when you’re under stress and inflammatory markers go up, making blood slightly more sticky.”

Is it a stroke?

Receiving treatment quickly is vital for improving the chances of a good recovery. Use the FAST test to spot signs of stroke:

Face : Can the person smile? Has their face fallen on one side?

Arms : Can the person raise both arms and keep them there?

Speech problems : Can the person speak clearly and understand what you say? Is their speech slurred?

Time : If you see any of these signs, it’s time to call 999.

Within minutes I could use my arm and leg again

Former teacher Karen Craven, 60, is married with two grown-up sons and lives in Wilford, Nottingham. She made a full recovery after a stroke thanks to ground-breaking treatment...

On the morning of my stroke in September 2015, I was getting ready for work when I felt an excruciating pain above my right temple, which lasted about a minute before subsiding.

My eldest son Sam, 28, was downstairs – he’d come back from the gym instead of going straight to work as he’d forgotten his clean shirt.

I went down to speak to him and he asked if I’d been drinking because I sounded slurred. “Chance would be a fine thing,” I joked, and headed upstairs to finish getting ready.

I dropped my hairbrush and, as I went to pick it up, I couldn’t grasp it with my left hand and that’s all I remember.

Sam came upstairs and found me on my knees with my left cheek flat on the floor.

When he lifted me up, he realised I might be having a stroke, so called 999 and a paramedic was at the house within minutes.

I couldn’t lift up my arms and the sight had gone in my left eye, along with the use of my left side.

When I got to hospital I was assessed in a specialist stroke unit and a CT scan revealed two blood clots in my brain.

Related: 6 Clues Your Body Gives You Before a Heart Attack (provided by Woman's Day)

On the morning of my stroke in September 2015, I was getting ready for work when I felt an excruciating pain above my right temple, which lasted about a minute before subsiding.

My eldest son Sam, 28, was downstairs – he’d come back from the gym instead of going straight to work as he’d forgotten his clean shirt.

I went down to speak to him and he asked if I’d been drinking because I sounded slurred. “Chance would be a fine thing,” I joked, and headed upstairs to finish getting ready.

I dropped my hairbrush and, as I went to pick it up, I couldn’t grasp it with my left hand and that’s all I remember.

Sam came upstairs and found me on my knees with my left cheek flat on the floor.

When he lifted me up, he realised I might be having a stroke, so called 999 and a paramedic was at the house within minutes.

I couldn’t lift up my arms and the sight had gone in my left eye, along with the use of my left side.

When I got to hospital I was assessed in a specialist stroke unit and a CT scan revealed two blood clots in my brain.

Feb 19th 2018

Facts about blood pressure you probably didn't know

High blood pressure is a major cause of heart attack and stroke, but most of us don't even know the facts. Here, NetDoctor GP Dr Roger Henderson gives the low-down on everything you need to know about blood pressure.

1.Blood pressure keeps you alive

Our heart is a small but very powerful pump that beats steadily and pumps about five litres of blood around our body every single minute of the day and night. To maintain this there has to be a certain degree of pressure in our circulation to keep the blood flowing, and this is what is meant by our blood pressure.

Blood pressure is divided into the pressure that occurs when our heart contracts or squeezes – known as the systolic pressure – and the pressure present when the heart relaxes is called the diastolic pressure. These pressures are what your doctor measures when they check your blood pressure and the figures used are in millimetres of mercury, so a typical reading may be described as 140 / 80 where 140 is the systolic pressure and 80 the diastolic.

2. It changes throughout the day

Blood pressure varies naturally through the day, increasing with exercise and stress and falling at rest or when asleep. It can also go up just by the process of it being taken by a doctor or nurse – so-called 'white coat blood pressure' and in these cases buying a blood pressure monitor and taking some readings at home when you are more relaxed can be helpful.

Blood pressure does not usually need to be checked every day or even every week; if you are on medication for high blood pressure and it is stable have it checked every few months, otherwise every few weeks is more than enough. If you have normal blood pressure, checking it a couple of times a year is fine. Most doctors would agree that aiming for a blood pressure of 130/80 or less is acceptable, but if you have diabetes and known heart problems then lower readings are even better.

3.High blood pressure sometimes just happens...

High blood pressure (also called hypertension) affects many people and is increasingly common as you get older. This usually occurs because the arteries that carry blood around the body become less elastic and more 'stiff' with age, but for the vast majority of people there is no obvious cause otherwise – it simply just happens, and this is known as 'essential' or 'primary' hypertension. In about 10% of cases there is an underlying medical cause for the raised blood pressure, and so this is called 'secondary' hypertension. Typical causes in these cases include chronic kidney diseases, problems with the blood supply to the kidneys, chronic alcohol abuse and some hormonal disturbances that affect the kidneys.

3.High blood pressure sometimes just happens...

High blood pressure (also called hypertension) affects many people and is increasingly common as you get older. This usually occurs because the arteries that carry blood around the body become less elastic and more 'stiff' with age, but for the vast majority of people there is no obvious cause otherwise – it simply just happens, and this is known as 'essential' or 'primary' hypertension. In about 10% of cases there is an underlying medical cause for the raised blood pressure, and so this is called 'secondary' hypertension. Typical causes in these cases include chronic kidney diseases, problems with the blood supply to the kidneys, chronic alcohol abuse and some hormonal disturbances that affect the kidneys.

4. ...But a variety of factors can trigger it

There are plenty of factors that can trigger high blood pressure, and the main ones include;

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5.You might not realise you have high blood pressure

One of the big problems with hypertension is that it actually causes very few symptoms in most people. Even apparently very fit people can have high blood pressure without realising it, but in severe cases there may be nosebleeds, headaches, sleeping difficulties, confusion and breathing problems.

If hypertension is left untreated, or you are unaware you have it then your chances of having a heart attack or stroke are greatly increased. By treating it, complications can be avoided and a normal life span can be reasonably expected. Typical complications apart from strokes and heart attacks include heart failure, where the heart gradually loses its ability to pump blood around the body effectively, kidney failure, eye damage and weakening and expansion of the main artery (the aorta) of the body as it passes through the chest or abdomen. This can cause it to suddenly rupture with possible fatal consequences.

6.But there are things you can do to reduce it

Fortunately you can help yourself if you are diagnosed with high blood pressure and one of the commonest initial treatments is not with drugs but by simple lifestyle changes and in at least a quarter of people this will be enough to bring their blood pressure down to normal levels

Even if these simple measures alone do not bring your high blood pressure down completely, they will still help to reduce the number of tablets you may need to take.

7.There are many medicines to treat hypertension

There are many highly effective drugs for hypertension that can be used in low doses with few if any side effects. Treatment is tailored to each person, with the commonest types used being diuretics ('water tablets'), beta-blockers, ACE inhibitors and calcium antagonists. If you are pregnant, or intending to have a baby, always let your doctor know since some drugs are more suitable than others in such cases, and your doctor will want to keep a closer eye on you.

8.You don't necessarily need a home monitor

Modern home blood pressure monitors are very cheap and reliable but don't automatically rush out and buy one if you know your blood pressure is normal – you can get this checked in your doctors surgery as many surgeries now have blood pressure machines in their waiting rooms that you can use.

However, if you have occasionally raised blood pressure readings or known hypertension these can be helpful to confirm treatment is working or that no treatment is needed and taking your own blood pressure when relaxed at home is often a more reliable reading than if you are anxious at your doctors. But do not become obsessed about checking it as this can put your blood pressure up!

Feb 1st 2018

More middle-aged people suffering strokes as 32,000 killed in a year

More middle aged people are suffering strokes as 32,000 were killed in a year by a devastating sudden attack.

New data shows 57,000 people had a first time stroke in England and they are striking at a much younger age compared to a decade ago.

Poor diet and lack of exercise are mean more people between the ages of 40 and 69 are being struck down.

Stroke is the third most common cause of premature death and leading cause of disability in the UK.

Public Health England data shows the average age for males having a stroke fell from 71 to 68 years and for females, 75 to 73 years between 2007 and 2016.

It showed 38% of first time strokes happened in middle aged adults during 2016. This is up from 34% in 2007.

Better health checks for the elderly as well as poor lifestyles of unsuspecting middle aged Brits are being blamed for the shift.

Prof Julia Verne, PHE director, said: “Many people think that strokes only affect older people, but that’s not the case.

“We need a better awareness in people aged 40 to 69 of factors that can contribute to stroke such as smoking, being overweight, not getting enough exercise and heavy drinking.

“Stroke is still one of the leading causes of death in England. Everyone needs to be aware of the signs.

“Calling 999 as soon as you see even one of the symptoms develop – in the face, arms and speech – is essential. Speedy treatment will help prevent deaths and disability.”

It is estimated that around 30% of people who have a stroke will go on to experience another stroke.

Tony Rudd, national clinical director for stroke with NHS England, said: “Thanks to improved NHS care, stroke survival is now at record high levels.

“Urgent treatment for strokes is essential so friends and family can play a key part in making sure their loved ones receive care as quickly as possible.

“Every minute counts and knowing when to call 999 if you see any one of the signs of stroke will make a significant difference to someone’s recovery and rehabilitation.”

One in six people will have a stroke in their lifetime. The total number of strokes in England has remained fairly stable at around 85,000 annually.

The majority (59%) of strokes occur in the elderly.

PHE is updating its “Act FAST” (Face, Arms, Speech, Time) acronym campaign which urges the public to call 999 if they notice even one of the signs of a stroke in themselves or others.

It encourages people to think face - check if it has it fallen on one side, arms - check if they can they raise both of them, speech - check if it is slurred, and time - to call 999.

Health minister Steve Brine MP said: “Strokes still claim thousands of lives each year, so the message of this Act FAST campaign remains as relevant as ever.

“The faster you act, the greater the chance of a good recovery. That’s why I’m urging everybody, and we must remember stroke can hit at any age, to familiarise themselves with the signs of a stroke and be ready to act fast.”

Jan 9th 2018

Heart attack: These are the signs you need to know about

With a new study showing women are more likely to die than men after experiencing a heart attack, knowing the signs and treatment could easily mean the difference between life and death.

A heart attack is a medical emergency caused by a clot forming in one of the three coronary arteries that supplies blood to the heart muscle. This prevents blood from flowing to the heart, which can prove very dangerous.

At this stage, it’s vital that blood flow is restored to the heart, which is why you should dial 999 immediately and ask for an ambulance if you suspect you’re having one.

As the NHS puts it: “Don’t worry if you have doubts. Paramedics would rather be called out to find an honest mistake has been made than be too late to save a person’s life.”

Signs of a heart attack

Emily McGrath, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation (BHF), told HuffPost UK that symptoms of heart attacks can vary from person to person and women are less likely to recognise symptoms. For example they might mistake a heart attack as indigestion, as the symptoms can feel similar.

The most common sign of a heart attack is chest pain or discomfort. NHS Choices describes this as “a sensation of pressure, tightness or squeezing in the centre of your chest”.

If it feels like indigestion, it can be difficult to determine whether it’s a heart attack or not, which is why it’s important to be aware of other symptoms that may arise such as: 

:: Feeling lightheaded or dizzy

:: Sweating

:: Feeling short of breath

:: Nauseousness or vomiting

:: Coughing or wheezing

:: Feeling very anxious (like having a panic attack)

:: Pain in other parts of the body. Emily from BHF explained further: “Pain can radiate to the arms, neck, jaw and back. You might experience pain down one side of the body or both. It doesn’t necessarily happen on the left side, which some people believe.”

Related: Are you suffering from high blood pressure? (provided by Espresso)

Diagnosis

If you’re suspected to be having a heart attack, you should receive an ECG within 10 minutes of arriving at hospital, according to the NHS.

The test checks the heart’s rhythm and electrical activity, which is essential for swift diagnosis and treatment.

Treatment

Treatment options given to patients will depend on the type of heart attack they’ve had.

For example, if they’ve had ST segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI), which is where the coronary artery is completely blocked by a blood clot, they will need to be treated as soon as possible to minimise damage to the heart. Treatment for STEMI involves a procedure to widen the coronary artery. 

Another treatment option is called coronary angioplasty. This involves inserting a tiny tube known as a balloon catheter into a large artery in the groin or arm. According to the NHS, the catheter is guided to the heart where it is then positioned in the coronary artery and inflated in order to open the artery and free up the blockage.

A stent, which is a flexible metal mesh, is usually inserted into the artery to help keep it open afterwards.

Patients may also be given medication like aspirin or heparin to thin the blood and prevent further blood clots. Some of these medications may be continued for some time afterwards.

Some patients might receive medication to break down the blood clot, known as thrombolytics or fibrinolytics. They may also be offered something called glycoprotein IIb/IIIa inhibitor which can prevent blood clots from getting bigger and stop symptoms from worsening.

Dec 29th 2017

With links to the most common diseases and health conditions, such as heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and vascular dementia, high blood pressure has a huge influence on the health of the country.

In fact, around one in three adults in the UK has high blood pressure, half of which are not diagnosed or receiving treatment, according to Blood Pressure UK.

High blood pressure – or hypertension – is also the third biggest risk factor for disease and disability in England after smoking and poor diet. It costs the NHS an estimated £2.1 billion every year.

The depressing facts and figures go on, but what actually is blood pressure and what causes it?

Blood pressure is measured by two numbers: systolic pressure (the higher number) is the force your heart pumps blood around the body, and diastolic pressure (the lower number) is the resistance to your blood flow in the blood vessels.

The ideal blood pressure is considered to fall between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg, according to NHS Choices.

What causes high blood pressure

The subject of constant scientific research, high blood pressure has been linked to all sorts of lifestyle choices over the years, including smoking cannabis, excessive internet use, living under a flight path and eating potatoes.

It’s not always certain what causes high blood pressure but certain aspects of an unhealthy lifestyle can increase your risk, such as:

being overweight or obese

eating too much salt and not eating enough fruit and vegetables

not doing enough exercise

drinking too much alcohol or caffeinated drinks

smoking

not getting much sleep

That lifestyle profile may sound like a considerable portion of the British public, but it’s not too late - making healthy lifestyle choices can reduce your blood pressure or reduce the risk of high levels. 

Other factors that are out of your control also play a part, including being over 65, having a relative with high blood pressure or being of African or Caribbean descent.

Apart from switching to a healthier lifestyle, there is a wide range of medication that can be prescribed to treat it by your doctor.

It’s not all doom and gloom though because a 2012 study found that chocolate can actually lower blood pressure.

The research found that daily consumption of dark or cocoa powder caused a slight reduction in blood pressure readings. Just don’t use this as an excuse to go chocolate mad.

Pregnant women

High blood pressure is also quite common among pregnant women. If pregnant women develop high blood pressure during the pregnancy it can affect the growth of the baby, so it is recommended to get it checked as often as possible.

The same healthy lifestyle advice applies to reducing the risk for pregnant women, but those over the age of 40, with a Body Mass Index (BMI) higher than 35, or those who have left a 10-year gap since their last pregnancy are at greater risk.

The higher the blood pressure, the more likely the doctor will opt to induce the birth early or consider a caesarean section. 

Low blood pressure

However, it’s not good to have low blood pressure, either. Even though it can be simply because you are fit and healthy, it can cause you to faint, feel weak, lightheaded or dizzy, and have blurred vision.

If you feel these kind of symptoms when you stand up or suddenly change position then you may have low blood pressure.

Apart from being healthy, low blood pressure could be caused by being pregnant, taking some types of medication and having medical conditions like diabetes.

All adults over 40 are advised to have their blood pressure checked at least every five years, so don’t hesitate.

Sept 19th 2017

Many of us could be putting ourselves at risk of an early stroke, Blood Pressure UK has warned.

The charity said unhealthy lifestyles, stress and poor diets are causing more young people to be diagnosed with high blood pressure (hypertension).

High blood pressure put extra strain on your heart and blood vessels. Over time, this increases your risk of a heart attack or stroke.

The proportion of strokes in people of working age (those aged 25 to 64) has increased despite an overall drop in the number of strokes. That means younger people than before are suffering from the life-threatening condition.

Blood Pressure UK is urging the public, regardless of their age, to check their blood pressure as part of Know Your Numbers! Week.

The Know Your Numbers! campaign is the UK's biggest free blood pressure testing event held at 'Pressure Stations' around the country from 18-24 September 2017. Volunteers hosting the Pressure Stations provide information and advice on simple steps to keep blood pressure under control and will measure your blood pressure accurately.

Being overweight, not exercising and eating too much salt are all key risk factors for developing high blood pressure. Hypertension was responsible for approximately 75,000 deaths in the UK in 2015, warns the charity.

Professor Graham MacGregor, Chairman of Blood Pressure UK said: "High blood pressure kills thousands of people every year in the UK, and is almost entirely preventable. By lowering the population's blood pressure even a small amount, we could save the NHS over £1billion every year."As an individual having your blood pressure checked is the most important step that you can take to reduce your risk of stroke, heart attack or heart failure."

Katharine Jenner, CEO of Blood Pressure UK says: "High blood pressure does not discriminate on age – People are dying unnecessarily because they fail to take such simple steps to reduce their blood pressure. Everyone is at risk and therefore it's essential to know your blood pressure numbers."

Related: Teen High Blood Pressure Can Cause Organ Damage

Aug 21st 2017

Scientists have discovered a new symptom that could be a sign that a heart attack is imminent.

After examining materials that were blocking the coronary arteries of a number of patients, a team of scientists and medical experts at Michigan State University confirmed that it was cholesterol - in the form of crystals.

They found that this particular type of hardened cholesterol was found in over 89 per cent of emergency room cases.

“In previous studies, we showed that when cholesterol goes from a liquid to a solid, or crystal state, it expands in volume like ice and water,” said Dr George Abela, professor of medicine at Michigan State University.

“This expansion inside the wall of the artery can tear it and block blood flow causing a heart attack or stroke.”

By examining patients in more than 240 emergency rooms across the US, once a heart attack patient was admitted the team would suction out the crystals and examine their size and hardness.

They discovered that the large clusters of crystals had managed to break through the plaque and walls of the arteries, even entering the heart itself.

As well causing physical damage by tearing through the arteries, the scientists were also able to confirm that these crystals activated the production of inflammation molecules called Interleukin-1 beta, which can inflame and aggravate arteries.

Now, as well as having a better understanding of a key symptom before a heart attack, this research also reinforces the notion that plenty of exercise and good dietary choices have a proven ability to reduce the formation of these crystals in the first place.

According to the NHS, other symptoms of heart attack can include chest pain which radiates from the best to the jaw, neck, arms and back, shortness of breath, feeling week or lightheaded and an overwhelming feeling of anxiety.

Aug 13th 2017

People who smoke weed are three times more likely to die from high blood pressure than those who do not, new research suggests.

Scientists in the US analysed data from marijuana users against non-users to determine the risk of death from hypertension (high blood pressure).

They found that compared to non-users, marijuana users had a 3.42-times higher risk of death from hypertension.

The researchers also found that the amount of time a person has spent smoking weed makes a difference, with a 1.04-times greater risk for each year of use.

However, Dr Willie Lawrence, an interventional cardiologist and spokesperson for the American Heart Association, has called the research “flawed”.

Lead author Barbara Yankey, a PhD student at Georgia State University, Atlanta, investigated the subject due to ongoing debate about the legalisation of marijuana in the US.

The study concluded that marijuana users had a three times higher risk of dying from hypertension. There was no link between marijuana use and death from heart disease or cerebrovascular disease.

The study is published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.

Get your blood pressure checked ASAP

Unfortunately hypertension-warning-signs for most of the population, there aren't any warning signs, a few people will get headaches and maybe blurred vision but generally speaking your blood pressure can be too high and you will be completely unaware until you take the wise move of getting your doctor to check it for you.

July 24th 2017

Why not make an appointment with your doctor today.

Your body could be quietly killing itself

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hypertension-warning-signs and your diet

March 21st 2017

Too much salt in our diets is causing up to 14,000 preventable deaths every year according to health campaigners.

And food producers, they say, are not meeting voluntary reduction targets because it would drive down their profits.

It is called the hidden killer, causing strokes, high blood pressure and heart disease.

Professor Graham MacGregor, chairman of Consensus on Salt and Health (CASH), said: "The easiest way to make bland, cheap food more palatable is to add salt - and salt is practically free.

"This is a national scandal. The UK was leading the world in salt reduction, but the Government is doing nothing to ensure that the 2017 salt targets are met."

Professor MacGregor is urging the Government to impose strict limits on the amount of salt used in processed foods.

So far only one out of 28 food categories is on track to meet 2017 salt reduction targets. That is bread rolls.

A product survey, which was conducted using the updated FoodSwitch UK app and its SaltSwitch filter, compared two shopping baskets, each containing similar everyday food items, but with different amounts of salt.

The difference in salt content between the unhealthy and healthy baskets of products was 57g of salt.

Findings revealed many products exceed the maximum salt reduction targets.

Galaxy Ultimate Marshmallow Hot Chocolate is saltier than seawater and has 16 times more salt (per 100g) than the maximum target - one serving is saltier than a bag of crisps, the study found.

Katharine Jenner, registered nutritionist and campaign director for CASH, said: "Salt is the forgotten killer.

"The findings from our FoodSwitch shopping basket survey are alarming and we are shocked to see that many food manufacturers and retailers are still failing to meet the salt reduction targets, despite having had years to work towards them.

"We congratulate the other, more responsible manufacturers, that have successfully achieved them, or are on track to meet them by the end of the year - which shows it is possible.

"With only nine months to go, action must be taken now."

The app was able to demonstrate in all 28 categories there were products with at least 30% less salt, which would meet the maximum salt reduction target.

CASH said the shopping basket analysis reaffirms the public health goal of consuming no more than 6g of salt per person per day is achievable, but said manufacturers are dragging their heels.

Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at Public Health England, said: "The food industry has reduced the amount of salt found in our foods by 11% in recent years, which is encouraging progress.

"We know there is more to do. This is why we're talking to retailers, manufacturers, and the eating out of home sector on how they go further and faster to reaching the 2017 salt reduction targets."

It is recommended that you cut down on the amount of salt that you have in your diet too much salt is one of the things that gives you high blood pressure, in addition you should eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, aim to eat 5x80 g portions of fruit and vegetables every day, have a low-fat diet that includes lots of fibre, wholegrain rice pasta and bread these minerals and fibre will keep your body in good condition.

Limit your drinking, staying within the advice levels will definitely reduce the risk of you developing high blood pressure also alcohol contains a lot of calories which inevitably makes you put on weight which will also increase your blood pressure.

Being overweight will definitely increase your blood pressure by making it harder for your heart get your general health checked and check your BMI when you visit a doctor, but if you can't lose a few pounds it will make a big difference to your blood pressure readings and your general health.

Regular exercise will help you lose weight, you will have a job to exercise as much as they recommend but I recommend that you get yourself a Fitbit I find them to be very useful and certainly an encouragement to move yourself and eat well.

If you are unfortunate enough to have developed a smoking habit please do your best to cut down as much as you can and ideally give it up altogether, smoking causes your arteries to narrow which is definitely not a good idea when combined with hypertension, you can get lots of help these days to give up smoking, and if the threat of lung disease doesn't stop you smoking please seek help.

Drinking too much tea and coffee also will not help to control your blood pressure, these drinks together with cola and some energy drinks can be the reason why your blood pressure is elevated.

Now don't be a fool to yourself, you only get one body so it is up to you to make it last as long as possible, make sure that you are not the one that is walking around ignorant of the fact that you have hypertension, (high blood pressure) and it is slowly killing you.

The good thing is the doctor can give you a very simple little pill for you to take once-a-day to bring your blood pressure back to normal.

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