High blood pressure (hypertension) rarely has noticeable symptoms, but if left untreated it increases your risk of heart attack, heart failure, kidney disease, stroke or dementia.

Ideal blood pressure readings are considered to be 120/80mmHg or below. People with a blood pressure readings below 90/60mmHg are usually regarded as having low blood pressure (hypotension).

Who is most at risk?

All adults should have their blood pressure checked regularly (at least every five years). Having this done is easy and could save your life.

Your chances of having high blood pressure increases with age. There isn't always a clear cause of high blood pressure but you are at increased risk if you:

•are aged over 65
•are overweight
•have a relative with high blood pressure
•are of African or Caribbean descent
•eat too much salt
•don't eat enough fruit and vegetables
•don't do enough exercise
•drink too much alcohol
•drink too much coffee (or other caffeine-based drinks)

Prevention and treatment

You can take steps to prevent high blood pressure by:
•losing weight if you need to
•reducing the amount of salt you eat
•exercising regularly
•eating a healthy diet
•cutting back if you drink too much alcohol
•cutting down on caffeine
•stopping smoking

If your blood pressure is found to be high, it will need to be closely monitored until it is brought under control. Your doctor will usually suggest changes to your lifestyle and, often, medication to achieve this.

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