Blood pressure high in Southland

NICCI MCDOUGALL
Last updated 05:00 02/05/2014

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Don't get stressed while you are reading this because your blood pressure could be high.

It might be time to get it checked.

The Stroke Foundation has this week announced the "startling news" that four out of 10 Southlanders who had their blood pressure tested in a campaign have taken action to control it as a result.

St John volunteers tested shoppers at supermarkets across the country in October. About 900 residents took part in Southland and nearly 20,000 nationwide.

The results show 13 per cent of people nationwide were referred to a GP and 20 per cent were already on blood pressure medication.

More than half of the people tested were aged over 50.

The average blood pressure reading was 134/82 but two of the highest came in at 231/133 and 218/180.

Often referred to as the "silent killer" because of its lack of symptoms, high blood pressure could cause strokes, heart attacks and kidney failure.

University of Otago professor of medicine consultant cardiologist Gerard Wilkins was not surprised by the Stroke Foundation's results.

High blood pressure was more prevalent in people aged over 50, and in the Western World half of the people aged over 50 would, at some stage, be taking blood pressure medication, he said.

High blood pressure could be directly related to obesity, salt, fat and alcohol intake and reduced exercise, among others, Wilkins said.

Sometimes people had no symptoms of high blood pressure, he said.

He urged men, who tended to suffer heart and stroke conditions at an earlier age, to get their blood pressure, blood count, cholesterol and diabetes checked by a GP about twice a year after they turned 40. He urged women over 50 to do the same.

The Stroke Foundation's campaign was about encouraging people to check their blood pressure regularly, know what their reading was and understand the relationship between high blood pressure and stroke.

Invitations are being sent to Southland's Foodstuffs supermarkets this week to participate in the 2014 campaign, scheduled for October 4. 

 

BLOOD PRESSURE ADVICE

Blood pressure is the force of blood against the walls of arteries.

A normal blood pressure reading is 120/80 and the definition of high blood pressure is 140/90.

Visit a GP or health clinic to get your blood pressure tested. People can also purchase automated blood-pressure devices from chemists and electronic shops and test themselves at home. If the result is consistently high, people should take that information to their family doctor.

People can lower their blood pressure by improving their diet (less salt, less fat), exercising more, losing weight and consuming less alcohol. Medication can also be taken. Source: University of Otago professor of medicine consultant cardiologist Gerard Wilkins.

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- The Southland Times

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