All about Blood Pressure

The importance of checking your blood pressure and how to prevent it from increasing

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Written by Mark
Updated over a week ago

Why does Blood Pressure matter?

Knowing your Blood Pressure (BP) value is very useful to help you understand your overall health. The higher your BP, the greater your risk of health problems in the future. 

When your BP is increased, additional strain is put on your artery walls and on your heart, over time this leads to your arteries becoming less flexible, thicker and sometimes weaker. These all contribute to making your arteries narrower. Any build-up of fatty deposits further increases this narrowing and if this leads to a complete blockage, heart attack, stroke, kidney damage and dementia often follows. 

Although high blood pressure can cause some symptoms such as fatigue, confusion, chest pain, difficulty breathing and vision problems, it frequently occurs with no symptoms at all. This is why it’s very beneficial to be regularly getting your blood pressure checked. 

Whenever you have a new reading these values will be added to your Progress tab upon syncing. Tracking any changes in these values can provide a very useful insight to how your lifestyle and diet may be altering your BP.

Getting the most out of your home Blood Pressure Monitor 

Checking your BP at home is an important part of managing or preventing hypertension. BP measurements taken in clinical practice are often inaccurate and prone to errors. However, the American Heart Association (AHA) and other organisations recommend that anyone with high BP or trying to prevent high BP, monitor it at home.

To ensure your readings are accurate it is advised to take your readings twice daily. The first measurement should be in the moring before eating or taking any medications and the second in the evening. Each time you measure, it's best to take 2 or 3 readings to check the reading is consistent and giving the true value. It's useful to take your readings at the same time each day.

Each individual reading provides a 'snapshot' of your blood pressure right now. However, depending on many different factors these values can fluctuate day-to-day. The big value will lie when you have many datapoints on your graph over a longer time period, providing a 'time-lapse' of your BP trends. You will then be able to clearly see any decrease in your BP regardless of slight changes in day-to-day measurements.

Prevention of High Blood Pressure

Your diet and lifestyle strongly effect your BP. Therefore, by making small changes, you can prevent or reduce your values from increasing. Whats great, is that these changes are additive, meaning the effects of each individual prevention method combine to make an even larger positive change! Here are our top tips for preventing high BP:

1. Focus on your diet. You will receive weekly goals personalised and targeted on what changes you can make in your diet to make the biggest effect. However, overall it is important to reduce sodium intake (salt) and increase potassium intake (found in most fruit and vegetables). 

Although you may not be physically adding salt to food around 75% of the salt we eat has already been added to food in the process of making it, such as bread, soups, breakfast cereals and ready meals to name a few. It’s important to become "salt savvy" and understand which products are high in salt and should be avoided and those which are lower and better choices. We will help you to understand these as you progress in your Journey.

2. High consumption of alcohol and tobacco also contribute to increasing blood pressures. It is advised to drink no more than 14 units a week and to have several alcohol-free days each week. Although smoking doesn’t directly cause high blood pressure, it does dramatically increase your risk of heart attack and stroke. Just like high blood pressure, smoking causes your arteries to narrow, but at a faster rate. This paired with exsisting hypertension could be detrimental to your health and wellbeing. 

3. Be more active! Adults are recommended to get at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week. This can include anything from swimming, walking, jogging, dancing to even housework and gardening! A great way to know if you achieving this is by wearing a fitness tracker which records all your activity. Being active and taking regular exercise lowers blood pressure by keeping your heart and blood vessels in good condition. It can also help you lose weight, which reduces the work load on your heart.

4. Give yourself time to relax and revitalise. Long-term sleep deprivation is associated with a rise in blood pressure. It’s important to get a very minimum of 6 hours a night, but ideally be aiming for 8 hours. When you are in a stressful situation your body produces different hormones which temporarily increase your blood pressure by causing your heart to beat faster and blood vessels to narrow. Chronic stress means these changes happen more frequently and increase inflammation which damages artery walls. It is important to take a break from our daily rush to do something for yourself. Even just 10 minutes a day of mindfulness whether this is guided or not, can provide many benefits. 

In your 12-week Journey we will focus on all these aspects in a bespoke way, tailoring your goals based on your blood pressure readings, questionnaire, microbiome results and any additional tracker information to provide recommendations which will guide you to make small, beneficial changes for optimal blood pressure values and to reduce your overall risk of cardiovascular disease.  

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