There’s a common misconception that people with high blood pressure will experience symptoms such as nervousness, sweating, difficulty sleeping or facial flushing.
The truth is that high blood pressure (HBP) is largely a symptomless condition.
If you ignore your blood pressure because you think symptoms will alert you to the problem, you are taking a dangerous gamble with your life.
Everybody needs to know their blood pressure numbers and everyone needs to prevent high blood pressure from developing.
Which is why it has been good to see the charity Blood Pressure UK making a high-profile visit to Portsmouth this week with its Know Your Numbers campaign.
What is not so good, rather scary in fact, is the charity’s own number: that of the 49,500 people in the city with HBP a staggering 47 per cent are unaware of their condition. In short, they are walking time bombs.
Portsmouth has an unenviable reputation for being a city, generally, in poor health.
The population is too fat, drinks and smokes too much and does not get enough exercise.
So it comes as no surprise that the key six ways to prevent and lower high blood pressure are: cutting the amount of salt you eat; reducing your alcohol intake; losing weight; taking more exercise; cutting down on caffeine and quitting smoking.
For those who turn a blind eye to all this thinking ‘it will never happen to me’, it’s worth stressing what HBP can do.
It’s a major cause of heart disease and strokes, can cause kidney disease, some types of dementia and eye problems. It can also affect limbs causing mobility problems.
In men it can cause erectile dysfunction (impotence) and in women lead to complications during pregnancy.
The only way of knowing whether you have high blood pressure is to have a test.
If it does turn out to be high then you can do something about it. What you cannot afford to do is nothing, because that time bomb might just go off.