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High blood pressure
High blood pressure (sometimes called hypertension) occurs when the pressure of the blood being pumped around your body becomes too high. Having high blood pressure for a long time can cause damage to the organs and the arteries that carry blood around your body. It also increases the risk of heart disease and strokes, and in older people can be a cause of vascular dementia.
About 30% of people in the UK have high blood pressure. It's more common in people who are overweight, who have a close family member who has high blood pressure, who drink a lot of alcohol, who suffer from stress, or who don't eat a balanced diet. It's also more common in people from an Afro-Caribbean background.
High blood pressure doesn't have any obvious symptoms, though some people might experience more frequent headaches. Most people don't know they have high blood pressure until they are checked by a doctor or nurse.
Treatments for high blood pressure
Nobody really knows what exactly causes high blood pressure, but most doctors believe that the risk of high blood pressure can be reduced by some simple lifestyle changes, including changing your diet, getting regular exercise, and cutting down on drinking and smoking.
If your blood pressure is very high, or if it stays high even though you are eating healthily and looking after yourself, your doctor can prescribe some medications to help to lower your blood pressure.
Low blood pressure
Low blood pressure, also known as hypotension, is where blood pressure in your arteries is abnormally low.
Naturally low blood pressure is unlikely to cause any symptoms and is normally nothing to worry about. However, if your blood pressure drops too low, it can restrict the amount of blood flowing to your brain and other vital organs, which can cause, unsteadiness, dizziness, light-headedness or fainting.
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The NHS website has information about the causes, symptoms and treatments of high blood pressure, and what you can do to lower the risk of developing high blood pressure.
And they also provide information on low blood pressure.
Blood Pressure UK is a charity which supports people who have high blood pressure, or who are worried about their blood pressure.
The British Heart Foundation provides information on blood pressure.
If you want to keep an eye on your blood pressure at home, you can buy a home monitor. There are a number of models available and they're designed to be easy to use and give accurate results.
Both Which and Blood Pressure UK provide information to help you to choose the best monitor for you.
The Nutritionist Resource website has information about a number of nutritional topics including blood pressure. They also have a list of nutritionists who work in your local area (note these nutritionists will charge for their services).