High Blood Pressure

What is high blood pressure?

Blood pressure is the measure of how strongly your blood presses against the walls of your arteries as your heart pumps it around your body. If this pressure is too high, it may put a strain on your arteries and heart, increasing your risk of a heart attack, a stroke and kidney problems. The good news is that your blood pressure can be brought down to, and maintained at, a normal level with drugs and/or lifestyle changes.

What causes high blood pressure?

The reason why someone has high pressure is not always clear. However, some common causes are:

  • not enough physical activity
  • being overweight
  • too much salt in your diet
  • drinking too much alcohol
  • having a family history of high blood pressure
  • smoking
  • certain conditions such as diabetes, high cholesterol and kidney disease.

The risk of developing high blood pressure also increases with age

How can physiotherapy help?

Your physiotherapist can advise you about how to lower your risk of developing high blood pressure and also about how to reduce your risk of health problems once you have been diagnosed. Simple lifestyle changes can help to lower high blood pressure and to avoid developing it in the future. Drugs are prescribed in the more severe cases, but if your blood pressure is borderline for treatment, exercise can help prevent you having to take medication.

In particular, they can tell you which exercise programmes are suitable for you, depending on how high your blood pressure is, how fit you are and how any other health conditions or disabilities you may have will affect your ability to exercise.

High blood pressure can have several causes, so you might need other lifestyle changes as well as exercise. If you are a beginner, exercising will often raise your blood pressure at first, so your doctor may want to lower your blood pressure with drugs before you start. If you have mild or moderately high blood pressure, however, or if you do gentle exercise and build up slowly, exercise is generally safe

Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP)

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