Blood Pressure Awareness Week - Helping Carers 'Know Their Numbers'
18 - 24 September 2017 is Blood Pressure Week, a national week to raise awareness of the risks of high blood pressure. Given the additional stresses and strains of caring, it’s particularly important for carers to keep an eye on their blood pressure and look after their general health. Do you 'know your numbers'?
What is high blood pressure?
Blood pressure is the when blood pushes against your blood vessels as it’s pumped around your body. Your blood pressure can be high, low or within the normal range.
If your blood pressure is too high, it can put extra strain on your blood vessels and heart. It also puts stress on other organs, such as the brain, kidneys and eyes. This can lead to increased risk of conditions such as heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, arterial disease and vascular dementia.
Who is at risk?
Anyone can have high blood pressure, but certain factors will increase your risk. These include:
· Being over 65.
· Being overweight or obese.
· Being of Afro-Caribbean or South Asian origin.
· Having family members with high blood pressure.
· Unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as smoking, excessive drinking, too much salt and not eating enough fruit and vegetables.
· Experiencing long-term sleep deprivation.
Know your numbers… as a carer
The theme of this year’s Blood Pressure week is ‘Know Your Numbers’. Given the increased health risks of caring and the additional hurdles carers face to maintain a healthy lifestyle, it’s vital that carers keep an eye on their blood pressure.
High blood pressure doesn’t have any noticeable symptoms, so the only way to find out is to get a blood pressure reading. According to NHS England, all adults over 40 should have their blood pressure checked at least every five years.
You can get your blood pressure checked by your GP and at certain pharmacies. For Blood Pressure Week, Blood Pressure UK has a list of free blood pressure check points.
The nearest blood pressure check points in Croydon are:
Cranston Ltd, 951 London Road, Thornton Heath CR7 6JE
Lotus Pharmacy, 119 Croydon Rd, Elmers End, Beckenham BR3 3RA
Medimpo Limited, 43 Central Parade, New Addington, Croydon CR0 0JD
Holmes Pharmacy, 10 The Parade, Coulsdon Road, Coulsdon, Surrey CR5 1EH
Blood pressure readings explained
Your blood pressure is generally tested by a machine and is measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg). Every blood pressure reading has two numbers, with one number on top of the other.
The first (or top) number is your systolic blood pressure. It is the highest level your blood pressure reaches when your heart beats. The second (or bottom) number is your diastolic blood pressure. It is the lowest level your blood pressure reaches as your heart relaxes between beats.
Keeping your blood pressure down
Lifestyle tips to keep your pressure down include:
Reducing your salt intake - The recommended maximum salt intake for adults is 6 grams a day. Salt is often hidden in processed foods, so try to check the labels.
Eating at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day - NHS England has advice and tips to help you eat more healthily.
Exercising regularly - Exercise can be hard to fit in when you are caring, but taking small steps can help; for example, going for a brisk walk or getting off the bus one stop early. You may be interested in the activities we offer at the Carers Support Centre.
Avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.
Maintaining a healthy weight, or losing weight if you are overweight or obese - NHS England has a BMI calculator.
Getting enough sleep - Sleep deprivation can be a major issue for carers. Our trainer has a list of self-care tips to help you get enough shut eye. We also offer regular workshops on topics such as managing sleep, so keep an eye on our events calendar.
For more information about your health as a carer and support with your caring role, contact the Carers' Information Service in Croydon. Please note that we can only support carers living or caring for someone in Croydon. For support outside the borough, contact Carers UK or your local carer support organisation.