Information for the public
High blood pressure
If you think that your care does not match what is described in this information, please talk to a member of your healthcare team in the first instance.
Your blood pressure is a measure of how strongly your blood is pressing against the walls of your arteries as it is pumped around your body by your heart. Blood pressure is made up of two measurements, one taken when your heart is beating and pumping blood (known as systolic blood pressure) and another taken when your heart is filling up with blood between beats (known as diastolic blood pressure). It is measured in millimetres of mercury (which is written as mmHg) and is recorded as systolic blood pressure over diastolic blood pressure, for example 120/70 mmHg.
If your blood pressure is 140/90 mmHg or above when it is measured in the GP practice or clinic, you may have high blood pressure. The medical name for this is hypertension.
High blood pressure is common, affecting at least one quarter of adults in the UK. It often has no symptoms and many people do not know they have it. The chance of developing high blood pressure becomes greater as a person grows older.
If you have high blood pressure, your heart has to work harder to pump blood around your body. This means that you may be at risk of cardiovascular disease, for example a heart attack (when the blood supply to your heart is affected) or a stroke (when the blood supply to your brain is affected). You may also be at risk of damage to the blood vessels in your kidneys or eyes. The higher your blood pressure is, the greater your risk becomes.
High blood pressure can be treated by making changes to your lifestyle (see Treating high blood pressure with lifestyle changes) and with drugs (see Treating high blood pressure with drugs), both of which can help to lower your blood pressure.
Questions you might like to ask your doctor or nurse about high blood pressure
Can you tell me more about high blood pressure?
Is there any information about high blood pressure that I can have?
Are there any local organisations that can give me support or advice about lowering my blood pressure?
Questions families or carers might like to ask the doctor or nurse about high blood pressure
What can I do to help and support someone to lower their blood pressure?
Can you provide any information on how I can help them?