One in three adults have high blood pressure in the UK, but many don’t realise it because it doesn’t have any symptoms.
So, all adults should have their blood pressure checked.
Knowing your blood pressure numbers is the first step to a long and healthy life. Along with other tests such as your blood cholesterol, they’re a sign of how healthy you are overall, and whether your heart and blood vessels are in good health. Think of a blood pressure check as part of an MOT for your body.
How can you tell if you have high blood pressure?
People are often shocked to find out they have high blood pressure. Perhaps thinking it only happens to older people or people who are very overweight or unhealthy. Others think there will be signs and symptoms, like headaches or feeling dizzy. In reality, it can happen at any age, and most people don’t feel any different.
The only way to know if your blood pressure is healthy is to have a check, and to keep having them regularly.
If you do notice anything unusual, for example blood shot eyes, headaches or generally feeling unwell, it’s always safest to make an appointment with your GP to see what’s going on.
Who should have a blood pressure check?
High blood pressure can develop at any age. Over 2.1million adults under 45 had high blood pressure in England in 2015.
If you are under 40 and you don’t know your numbers, it’s a good idea to have a check, especially if you’re carrying extra weight, you smoke, or you have any of the other health problems that mean you’re more likely to have high blood pressure.
High blood pressure becomes more common with age, so if you are over 40, you should get a blood pressure check at least every five years.
How often should I get my blood pressure checked?
How often you should have a check will depend on your blood pressure reading.
As you get older, your blood pressure is likely to creep up and you should get it checked more often than every five years. You should also have checks more often if your blood pressure is over 120/80mmHg. Read more about what the numbers mean.
If your blood pressure is healthy
If your blood pressure is in the healthy range, between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg, keep having checks at least every five years.
If your blood pressure is slightly raised
If your numbers were between 120/80mmHg and 139/89mmHg last time you had a check, then it’s best to get your blood pressure checked every year, and at least every five years. High blood pressure is usually diagnosed if your numbers reach 140/90mmHg. You should also start taking steps to lower your blood pressure.
If you have high blood pressure
If you have a reading which is over 140/90mmHg, you should go to your GP if you had your check elsewhere. High blood pressure is usually diagnosed when your numbers are consistently over 140/90mmHg. Speak to your doctor about how often you should have checks.
You might need to have checks quite often to begin with, perhaps every few weeks, while you get your blood pressure under control. Then less often, perhaps once every six months to a year.
If your reading is very high
If your reading is over 160/100mmHg you should see your GP. If it’s over 180/110mmHg make sure you see them within 48 hours, and if you have any unusual symptoms as well such as blurred vision or headaches then see them straight away.