Health Defence Scotland November 8, 2019 Hosepipes and Hearts Hosepipes and hearts So what has a hosepipe got to do with your heart? Have you ever turned the hose on and found it has sprung a leak? Have you ever found the pressure has dropped, the pipe is clogged and the water isn’t following properly? This is similar to what is happening within our bodies, over time, as blood flows around. The blood is pumped from our heart. More of this later. Have you ever had your blood pressure checked? It’s quick and simple to do. Although it may feel a little uncomfortable as the cuff tightens, knowing what your blood pressure is helps us to plan a healthier life. Blood pressure is the measure of the force of blood being pushed through your arteries. Arteries are the blood vessels or tubes that join together to take blood all around your body. They carry blood from the tips of your fingers to organs like your brain and heart. Our bodies need blood to deliver nutrition and oxygen. Blood also carries away waste that our bodies make. Remember that hosepipe? Imagine your arteries are like a hosepipe and your blood pressure is similar to the pressure of water going through and around the hosepipe. If your blood pressure is high, it is like the water in the hosepipe being turned up to full force the whole time. Constant high blood pressure can cause damage to your arteries. If blood is shooting through at high pressure, it can cause friction and small scars within your arteries. The arteries become damaged and fatty deposits get caught up in the damaged areas. These make the hosepipe narrower or it may begin to become clogged. This makes it harder for blood to flow around our body. This damage can eventually lead to a heart attack or stroke. So how do I know if my blood pressure is high? Many people are living with high blood pressure but have no signs or symptoms. They may not feel unwell at all. The only way to know if you have high blood pressure is to have your blood pressure checked. If you are over the age of 40 you should have it checked at least once every five years. If you are living with diabetes or a long term health condition, you will need to have your blood pressure checked more often. Health Defence Scotland is helping us live healthier lives. We offer free blood pressure checks. Your local pharmacist, nurse or doctor can also check your blood pressure. You could also buy or borrow a machine and monitor it yourself at home. Some things increase our risk of high blood pressure. As we get older, our risk increases. Being overweight or having a high salt intake also increases our risk. We can’t change some things, such as getting older, but we can change our lifestyle. We can choose what to eat and drink or how active we are. Who can help support me? Health Defence Scotland can provide you with information about salt and health, healthy weight and activity. We can also offer you a blood pressure screening check. You can contact the Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland Advice Line nurses (freephone 0808 801 0899, text NURSE to 66777 or email firstname.lastname@example.org) for free, confidential advice and support. Our nurses can answer any questions you may have about your blood pressure. So don’t wait for the hosepipe to become clogged. Find out what your blood pressure is today to live a healthier life.