What is high blood pressure?

High blood pressure (also known as hypertension) is defined as having a sustained blood pressure of 140/90mmHg or above.

The line between normal and raised blood pressure is not fixed and depends on your individual circumstances. Most guidelines agree the ideal blood pressure for a physically healthy person is around 120/80mmHg. A normal blood pressure reading is classed as less than 130/80mmHg.

Would I get symptoms?

High blood pressure often causes no symptoms. The only way to find out whether you have high blood pressure is to have your blood pressure checked regularly. Ask your GP, health professional or pharmacy for yours to be checked.

What causes high blood pressure?

Often the cause of high blood pressure is not clear, however there are clear risk factors which include diabetes, ethnicity (high risk are being from the Indian subcontinent, Maori or Pacific Islands descent), a family history of high blood pressure, being overweight, eating a lot of salt, a lack of exercise, regular excess alcohol, high stress.

What can I do?

Improving your lifestyle factors by losing weight and doing exercise if you are overweight, reducing (or eliminating) salt form your diet, and getting better control of diabetes.

Some people do all these, but their blood pressure stays too high, at this point it is best to start one of more medication to reduce your BP - and therefore reduce the long term risk of serious cardiovascular complications (such as a heart attack or stroke).

Can I get my own BP monitor?

It is a good idea to buy your own home blood pressure cuff. Regular home measurements should be more accurate than once of twice in a GP surgery (when you might have been rushing to get there on time). If you prefer not to buy one, most pharmacies can take a reading for you for a small cost, or have a machine that will read it for free.

How and when do I take my own blood pressure?

Ideally you should measure your blood pressure at about the same time twice a day - morning and evening. Start by sitting quietly for about 5 minutes. Put the cuff on the same arm each time, at the level of the heart. You should aim for a reading of less than 135/85mmHg.

If you have already been started on high blood pressure medications by your own GP or specialist, we can issued your repeat prescriptions.

Want to talk?

Book an appointment for a video consultation with a qualified New Zealand GP, who can discuss all this with you. If appropriate, we can arrange for the medications to be precsribed and delivered to you.

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