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Blood pressure checks

Blood pressure is the force at which your heart pumps blood around the body through your arteries.

What is high blood pressure?

High blood pressure (or hypertension) is when the blood pressure is 140/90 or higher over a number of weeks, even when you’re resting. 

Your blood pressure usually goes up and down depending on what you’re doing. If your blood pressure stays too high, for too long, then it can cause damage to your body. 

People with high blood pressure that is not controlled with medication are at an increased risk of having a stroke, heart attack, heart failure, heart disease and kidney failure due to the extra strain on the body’s organs.

NHS hypertension screening service

Our community pharmacies in England are now offering a free NHS hypertension screening service to all adults over 40. 

An estimated 5.5 million people in England are living with undiagnosed high blood pressure (hypertension)[1]. If left untreated, hypertension can lead to serious heart and circulatory diseases such as heart attack and stroke[2]. 

Hypertension rarely has any noticeable symptoms. The only way to find out if your blood pressure is high is to have your blood pressure checked[3]. 

A pharmacist will measure your blood pressure in a private consultation room. If the reading is high, they may offer you an ambulatory blood pressure monitoring (ABPM) device to wear. This can automatically measure your blood pressure at regular intervals over a 24 hour period, allowing for a more detailed view of your blood pressure. 

You don’t need to make an appointment for this service, simply visit your nearest Well pharmacy and speak to the pharmacist. 

Please note, this service is for people who have not previously been diagnosed with hypertension. If you have hypertension and would like some information please speak to a pharmacist or read our advice on managing high blood pressure.

What is low blood pressure?

Low blood pressure (or hypotension) is when the blood pressure is 90/60 or less when you’re resting. If you have low blood pressure, you may experience dizziness, fainting, blurred vision, nausea and general weakness. People who are older and have low blood pressure are at higher risk of injuring themselves by falling. 

How would I know if I have high or low blood pressure?

Most people don’t have any symptoms of high blood pressure. Having your blood pressure checked is the only way to find out.

People with low blood pressure will often feel dizzy or lightheaded, particularly if they stand up suddenly. 

The NHS recommends that healthy adults who are over 40 should have a blood pressure check every 5 years. People who are at increased risk of high blood pressure should have checks once a year. 

It is usual to need to have several checks, and over several weeks if your blood pressure appears initially high. Some people will use a monitor that is carried around with them to see how the blood pressure changes throughout the day. This is called 24-hour ambulatory monitoring. 

How is blood pressure measured?

Blood pressure is checked with a device made of a cuff, which goes around your arm, a pump, which inflates the cuff to temporarily restrict circulation, and a dial or digital display to report your blood pressure.

When your blood pressure is measured, it is written down as two numbers.

The first (or top number) is the systolic, taken when the heart beats and forces blood through the arteries, and the second (or bottom figure) is the diastolic pressure, taken between heartbeats, or while your heart is at rest. Your doctor will be looking at both of those numbers when they decide whether or not treatment is needed to manage your blood pressure. 

How can Well help you?

If you think you might be at risk of high blood pressure, or you simply haven’t had it checked in a while, you can get a blood pressure check at any Well Pharmacy. You don’t need to make an appointment, and all of our pharmacies have private consultation rooms where you can have the check and discuss the results with a pharmacist.

If you’re diagnosed with high or low blood pressure, then your pharmacist will be able to discuss with you if there are any lifestyle or diet changes that could help your blood pressure or overall heart risk. 

If your doctor prescribes medication, then your pharmacist can help you be confident in using your medication safely and effectively and support you with understanding your heart health choices. 

You can also find more detailed general information at nhs.uk, where you can also check your heart age.

Find out below what services your nearest Well Pharmacy offers.

References

  1. 1.

    CVD prevention: detecting and treating hypertension. Accessed October 6, 2021.

    https://stpsupport.nice.org.uk/cvd-prevention-hypertension/index.html
  2. 2.

    High blood pressure. bhf.org.uk. Accessed October 8, 2021.

    https://www.bhf.org.uk/informationsupport/risk-factors/high-blood-pressure
  3. 3.

    High blood pressure (hypertension). nhs.uk. Published October 23, 2017. Accessed December 1, 2020.

    https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/high-blood-pressure-hypertension/