Health advice

What is high blood pressure?

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High blood pressure is a common condition that can cause serious health issues if left untreated. Read more about what is classed as high and low blood pressure and how it can be treated.

Around 13.5 million people have high blood pressure in the UK.1 The British Heart Foundation’s video below explains what is meant by high blood pressure. You might also hear high blood pressure being called hypertension.

High blood pressure puts extra strain on blood vessels, the heart and other organs such as the brain, kidneys and eyes. It can increase your chances of getting other very serious health conditions including:

  • Heart disease
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Heart failure
  • Peripheral arterial disease
  • Aortic aneurysm
  • Kidney disease
  • Vascular dementia.2

How do I know if I have high blood pressure?

There are usually no symptoms linked with high blood pressure. Most people will find out they have high blood pressure after having a blood pressure check with a pharmacist or GP.

Normal blood pressure reading

Between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg.

High blood pressure reading

140/90 mmHg or higher.3

How to treat high blood pressure

Treatment for high blood pressure involves lifestyle changes or medication.

Some examples of lifestyle changes are:

Medication to treat high blood pressure will usually be tablets you take once a day.2 The NHS website and NICE have a full list of specific medications.

Reviewed by: Mital Thakrar

Review date: March 2022

Next review: March 2025

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  1. Context | Hypertension in adults: diagnosis and management | Guidance | NICE. Accessed December 7, 2020.
  2. High blood pressure (hypertension). Published October 23, 2017. Accessed December 1, 2020.
  3. Recommendations | Hypertension in adults: diagnosis and management | Guidance | NICE. Accessed December 1, 2020.

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