1 in 4 women in Australia have high blood pressure. Your blood pressure is a measurement of how ‘hard’ your heart is working to push blood around your body, through the blood vessels. Such raised blood pressure, known as hypertension, is estimated to cause 7.5 million deaths, about 12.8% of the total of all deaths worldwide. Hypertension is more common among men before the age of 55 years, but is more common among women after that age limit.
Do you know that hypertension is a ‘silent killer’?
It is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. On an average, 7 out of every 10 people having their first heart attack and 8 out of every 10 people having their first stroke have hypertension. In addition, uncontrolled hypertension can damage your kidneys and eyes. In terms of complications arising from hypertension, women have higher prevalence of heart failure than men. Evidence suggests that awareness, treatment and control rates of hypertension are higher among women compared to men, but the control rate is lower among older hypertensive women.
How do you know that you are at risk?
The only way to know this is to have your blood pressure measured. You can do that at home with a digital blood pressure machine or you can simply go to your GP to know your recording. You can notice that there are two numbers on the monitor. The upper number indicates the pressure the heart exerts to pump out blood to the body, which is known as systolic blood pressure. The lower number indicates the pressure when the heart relaxes and is known as diastolic blood pressure. The table below shows the numbers which you need to remember:
|Upper number /
|Lower number /
|Normal||Less than 120||Less than 80|
|At risk of hypertension (prehypertension)||121-129||80 or less|
|Hypertension||130 or higher||80 or higher|
Have a rest for 5 minutes before recording your blood pressure. If you notice that your recording indicates prehypertension and hypertension, keep a record with date and time. Have your recording twice a day for 7 days and go to your GP with your records for further advice.
Do you know the causes of hypertension?
Besides your family history which you can’t change, there are other factors for hypertension which are under your control such as increased weight, unhealthy diet specifically rich in salt and sodium, lack of physical activity, smoking and alcohol intake.
What can you do to manage your high blood pressure?
Look at our lifestyle tab to know more
Maintain a healthy weight according to your age
Reduce the amount of salt that you consume to reduce your risk. You can do this by:
- Avoid adding additional salt to meals during the cooking process or at the table
- Avoid high salt foods such as crisps, processed meats and sauces
Increase the amount of potassium in your diet. Potassium is found in foods such as:
- leafy greens, such as spinach, kale and silverbeet
- vine fruits, such as tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, eggplant and pumpkin
- root vegetables, such as carrots, potatoes and sweet potatoes
- tree fruits, such as apples, oranges and bananas
- beans and peas
- milk, yoghurt and meat
Be physically active every day – aim for 30 minutes
Reduce your alcohol intake – it is recommended that you drink no more that 2 standard drinks per day
It is never too late to quit smoking
Blood Pressure Medication
If your GP suggests you to start taking medication to control your blood pressure, do not stop taking it without first discussing with your GP