My name is Brian Williams.
I'm the professor of medicine
at the University of Leicester
and the University Hospitals
of Leicester NHS Trust.
Under normal circumstances,
a normal blood pressure in an adult
is less than 120/80.
If your blood pressure
is persistently elevated,
and it's the persistent elevation
which is important,
then it can cause damage
to blood vessels,
the kidneys, the heart and the brain.
That's why we're interested in
people with a high blood pressure.
We call the high blood pressure
About 25 per cent or one quarter
of all adults have high blood pressure
that might benefit from treatment.
Once you get to the age of about 60,
then about half of all adults
have high blood pressure,
so it's quite a common problem
that gets more frequent with ageing.
As a doctor I often get asked
by patients what causes it.
Well, in about 90 per cent
or nine out of ten cases,
we can't identify a cause,
it's just that
your blood pressure tracks
at a slightly higher level
than what would be ideal.
In most cases we simply identify it
and treat it.
One of the big problems
about high blood pressure
is that it really doesn't cause
any symptoms at all.
That creates a problem for us
because if you don't have symptoms,
the only way we can detect it
is by routine screening.
And that is why having your
blood pressure measured by your doctor
is really part of the routine
examination your doctor will do
when he has the opportunity to see
perhaps about another illness,
or he may call you in to have a check
periodically for blood pressure.
The other thing I would say is that
your doctor measures your blood pressure
or you measure it yourself
and it's high,
don't be alarmed by that
because quite often the second time
or third time it's measured
the blood pressure falls
to a normal value.
Quite a lot of us
get a slightly high blood pressure
when we have our blood pressure
for the first time.
There are two approaches to treatment.
The first are things
that you can do yourself.
We know that if you have a diet
that is high in salt, for example,
are particularly sensitive to salt
and their blood pressure will rise.
So a diet that has a reduced level
salt may help lower your blood pressure.
Also because blood pressure
with increased risk
of cardiovascular disease,
if you have high blood pressure
we would often recommend
a number of lifestyle changes
to try and reduce your blood
and your risk.
Inevitably we would recommend
that you stop smoking if you smoke.
Inevitably we would recommend that
you try and maintain your body weight
as an ideal body weight
by taking some regular exercise.
If you drink alcohol, as many people do,
that's not a problem
if you have high blood pressure,
but if you drink too heavily
it can put your blood pressure up,
particularly binge-drinking, which
produce a surge in blood pressure.
So we would recommend that you have
a sensible and moderate alcohol intake.
In terms of diet itself,
we would recommend
that you eat the usual vegetables
and try and reduce
the amount of fat in your diet,
all of which will be important
your overall cardiovascular risk.
We have a number
of medications available.
Most of them need to be taken
once a day.
Your doctor will select the medication
that is best suited to you
based on your overall profile
and your age, etcetera.
Another question that I often get asked,
particularly with a younger patient
with high blood pressure,
is whether or not it runs in families.
Well, there is no doubt that if
your parents have high blood pressure,
you have a slightly higher risk
of developing high blood pressure.
So if your mother and father
have high blood pressure,
make sure you get
your blood pressure checked.
In many cases it will be normal
but in some cases you may have
some of these unknown factors
that give rise
to an elevation in blood pressure
that appear to be
So in terms of further advice,
if you've recently had your
blood pressure measured as a one-off
or you've measured it yourself at
supermarket and found it a bit high,
I would say this.
If it's the first time
it's been measured
it will need to have repeated measures
by your doctor or the nurse
in your doctor's surgery
just to find out where it levels off at
and to see
whether it's persistently high.
If it is persistently high,
as I've discussed,
lifestyle changes can make
a major impact on your blood pressure,
maintaining an ideal body weight,
moderating your alcohol intake
and trying to avoid foods
that contain too much salt in the diet.
If that doesn't work,
and it doesn't for everybody,
then you may need drug treatment,
but I would like to reassure you
that these days
the drugs that we use
are really very well tolerated
and they are incredibly effective
at controlling blood pressure
and, importantly, in reducing the risk
of stroke and heart disease
later in life.