HIGH blood pressure usually gives no symptoms, and is often referred to as the silent killer.

Having high blood pressure, also called hypertension, increases risk of stroke, heart attack, heart failure and kidney disease.

Blood pressure is the pressure of blood within the arteries and is produced primarily by the contraction of the heart.

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Professor Ahmet Fuat is a GP based at Carmel Medical Practice in Darlington and is an Honorary Professor of Primary Care Cardiology at Durham University, and he is urging the public to pay more attention to their blood pressure to reduce risk of stroke or heart disease.

Prof. Fuat said: “We want the people of Darlington to get their blood pressure checked by either attending their GP surgery by appointment, going into a pharmacy and asking for a check there or buying a blood pressure monitor in a pharmacy or online.

"It’s easy to check which brands are approved by visiting the British Heart Foundation website.

"Fewer people have been going into GP surgeries in general since the start of the pandemic and so fewer people have had their blood pressure checked.

"Darlington Primary Care Network was one of the first pilot sites in the country to give out 100 free blood pressure monitors so patients can check their blood pressure and send the readings into their GP surgery to assess."

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Blood pressure is usually measured through the large arteries in the upper left arm using a blood pressure cuff and either a stethoscope or machine and its measurement is recorded by two numbers.

The first is measured after the heart contracts and is highest and is known as systolic pressure.

The second is measured before the heart contracts and is lowest and is known as diastolic pressure.

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According to the NHS, the ranges for ideal blood pressure are:

- Low blood pressure (hypotension): 90/60mmHg or lower

- Ideal blood pressure: between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg

- Borderline high blood pressure: between 120/80mmHg and 140/90mmHg

- High blood pressure (hypertension): above 140/90mmHg

According to Blood Pressure UK, high blood pressure is the third biggest risk factors for all disease after smoking and poor diet and in England alone, over 5 million people are undiagnosed.

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Dr Shahed Ahmad, National Clinical Director for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention at NHS England and NHS Improvement, said: “Cardiovascular disease kills 136000 people a year.

"Tackling hypertension is one of the best things we can do to save lives and reduce health inequalities.

"As well as saving lives, tackling hypertension also reduces the number of strokes and helps take some of the pressure off our social care services."

Prof. Fuat said: “A balanced diet, regular exercise, a good sleep schedule and cutting down on salt and smoking are recommended for reducing blood pressure."

All patients aged 40-74 in the UK are eligible for an NHS health check every five years.


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