Blood pressure myths exploded
There are a number of common myths about high blood pressure and its treatment. The following information tackles five of the most common.
Your blood pressure should be 100 plus your age
There is often a feeling that high blood pressure is just a natural part of ageing, and that as your age increases, so should your blood pressure. This is definitely not the case.
High blood pressure is a reading above 140/90 mmHg, whatever your age. It is not just a part of ageing, and it is certainly not inevitable.
We do not know exactly what causes high blood pressure, but we do know that your lifestyle has a lot to do with it. The less healthy a life you lead, the more likely you are to have high blood pressure. So over time, as you get older, the effects of an unhealthy lifestyle build up and raise your blood pressure to levels that are too high.
You’ll know if you have high blood pressure because you can feel it
High blood pressure will only occasionally cause symptoms when it is very high. In almost all cases, high blood pressure has no symptoms whatsoever.
There are around 16 million people with high blood pressure in the UK. Around a third of these people do not know they have it.
The only way to know if your blood pressure is too high, is to have it checked. That is why we recommend that everyone has their blood pressure measured regularly.
You can measure your own blood pressure without needing to use a stethoscope by using an automatic blood pressure monitor.
Only people who are stressed or “hyper” need to worry about their blood pressure
Anyone can develop high blood pressure. Leading a busy or stressful lifestyle doesn’t appear to make you more likely to develop high blood pressure than anyone else
Stress and anxiety will raise your blood pressure in the short term, but when you relax your blood pressure will go down again. The only way that a stressful lifestyle can raise your blood pressure is if you have a poor diet or aren’t getting enough exercise as a result of it.
If you have high blood pressure you can’t take any exercise
While you exercise, your blood pressure increases. Once you stop exercising, your blood pressure goes back down to its usual levels.
Some people think that this brief increase in blood pressure puts them at greater risk of a heart attack or stroke. For most people with high blood pressure, this is not the case. In fact, regular physical activity can help to lower your blood pressure.
If you have high blood pressure, you may find it useful to speak to your doctor or nurse before starting any new exercises. If your blood pressure is quite high (e.g. above 180/100mmHg) then they may prefer you to lower it with medicines before you start exercising.
High blood pressure causes heart attacks, low blood pressure causes strokes
The first part of this statement is certainly true: high blood pressure is a leading cause of heart disease and stroke.
However, low blood pressure does not increase your risk of having a stroke. In fact, the lower your blood pressure is, the lower your risk of heart disease or stroke.
If you have low blood pressure this should not usually be a cause for concern. However, if low blood pressure is causing you to feel faint or dizzy, speak to your doctor or nurse.