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If your blood pressure is consistently higher than it should be it is called high blood pressure (or hypertension).
High blood pressure is not a disease in itself. However, it can lead to an increased risk of heart disease and strokes.
Over the years high blood pressure slowly damages the blood vessels by making them narrower and more rigid. This means that:
This is what happens in heart attacks and strokes.
High blood pressure rarely has any symptoms. The only way to know what your blood pressure is, is to have it measured.
High blood pressure is more common as you get older so it is important to get it checked regularly.
It is recommended that you have your blood pressure checked at least every 5 years from the age of 40.
Blood pressure is measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg) and is recorded as two readings:
These readings are recorded for example as 120/70mmHg.
The aim of medical treatment is to try and get your blood pressure as close to your target range as possible.
There are several groups of medicines that are used to treat high blood pressure, each of which works slightly differently. If you notice any troublesome side effects then discuss these with your doctor as there may be a different medicine you can try instead.
Changes to lifestyle risk factors can significantly reduce high blood pressure. You can help to reduce your blood pressure by: