Know Your Numbers Week highlights the importance of knowing what your blood pressure is, understanding how you can positively influence this and being aware how your health can be affected by high, and low, blood pressure. This was commenced in 2001 and since that time over 1.5 million people have had their blood pressure checked as part of this campaign.
As a service at St Neots Hospital, we monitor our patients’ blood pressure as part of their NEWS 2 assessment, which is done daily. But what about our staff? Our Student Nurse provided 3 opportunities for our staff to have their blood pressure taken with a manual sphygmomanometer, which is not only more reliable that the automatic monitors, but also gave a valuable training opportunity to our student nurse from Anglia Ruskin University, which she can take forward in her nursing career.
As part of her project our Student Nurse has also developed an information board to educate staff on how they can make positive changes to their eating habits and how exercise can make a long lasting change to their blood pressure and of course, their overall health.
Unfortunately high blood pressure, or hypertension, is becoming increasingly common, with today’s lifestyles of high fat and convenience foods, smoking, salt contents in peoples diets and lack of exercise contributing to this. Sometimes it is cheaper and easier to go with the more unhealthy options when planning your meals for the week.
People can have high blood pressure with no symptoms at all, whilst others can experience headaches, nosebleeds, and physically feel and hear their heart ‘pounding’. There is no getting away from it, the potential consequences to ongoing and untreated high blood pressure are very serious; stroke, heart attack or heart failure, and vascular dementia are just a few.
As high blood pressure is increasingly common, there are some very famous people that have been unable to avoid this, with people such as the US President Franklyn Roosevelt, Barry White and Whitney Houston, and it is widely reported that hypertension played a role in their passing. However there are others such as Oprah Winfrey, who has made changes to her lifestyle to make a positive impact on her blood pressure levels, Daniel Radcliffe who takes medication to reduce his levels, and Timothy West who wasn’t aware he had hypertension until a routine medical for a TV show he was filming.
Positive life changes can be made to reduce your blood pressure, such as reducing salt in your food, not eating too many saturated fats, cutting back on alcohol, completing a smoking cessation programme, increasing your physical activity, and trying to eat fresh fruit and vegetables. However it is recognised that this is easier said than done!