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High blood pressure, or hypertension, rarely has noticeable symptoms. But if untreated, it increases your risk of serious problems such as heart attacks and strokes.

More than one in four adults in the UK have high blood pressure, although many won't realise it.

The only way to find out if your blood pressure is high is to have your blood pressure checked .

What is high blood pressure?

Blood pressure is recorded with two numbers. The systolic pressure (higher number) is the force at which your heart pumps blood around your body.

The diastolic pressure (lower number) is the resistance to the blood flow in the blood vessels. They're both measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg).

As a general guide:

  • high blood pressure is considered to be 140/90mmHg or higher
  • idealblood pressure is considered to be between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg
  • low blood pressure is considered to be 90/60mmHg or lower

A blood pressure reading between 120/80mmHg and 140/90mmHg could mean you're at risk of developing high blood pressure if you don't take steps to keep your blood pressure under control.

Find out more about what your blood pressure result means .

Risks of high blood pressure

If your blood pressure is too high, it puts extra strain on your blood vessels, heart and other organs, such as the brain, kidneys and eyes.

Persistent high blood pressure can increase your risk of a number of serious and potentially life-threatening conditions, such as:

If you have high blood pressure,reducing it even a small amount can help lower your risk of these conditions.

Check your blood pressure

The only way of knowing whether you have high blood pressure is to have a blood pressure test .

All adults over 40 are advised to have their blood pressure checked at least every five years. Getting this done is easy and could save your life.

You can get your blood pressure tested at a number of places, including:

  • at your GP surgery
  • at some pharmacies
  • as part of your NHS Health Check
  • in some workplaces

You can also check your blood pressure yourself with ahome blood pressuremonitor.

Read more about getting a blood pressure test .

Causes of high blood pressure

It's not always clear what causes high blood pressure, but certain things can increase your risk.

You're at an increased risk of high blood pressure if you:

  • are over the age of 65
  • areoverweight or obese
  • areof African or Caribbean descent
  • have a relative with high blood pressure
  • eat too much salt and don't eatenough fruit and vegetables
  • don'tdo enough exercise
  • drinktoo muchalcoholorcoffee (or other caffeine-based drinks)
  • smoke
  • don't get much sleep or have disturbed sleep

Making healthy lifestyle changes can help reduce your chances of getting high blood pressure and help lower your blood pressure if it's already high.


  • diuretics such as indapamide and bendroflumethiazide
  • beta-blockers such as atenolol and bisoprolol
  • alpha-blockers such as doxazosin
  • renin inhibitors such as aliskiren
  • other diuretics such as amiloride and spironolactone


The medication recommended for you will depend on things like how high your blood pressure is and your age.

Read more about how blood pressure is treated .

Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 30 Nov 2016