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Free Blood Pressure Testing from Tesco

By Dietitian, Juliette Kellow BSc RD

According to the British Heart Foundation’s 2006 report on Coronary Heart Disease Statistics, around 34 percent of men and 30 percent of women in England and Wales suffer from hypertension, more commonly known as high blood pressure, and as a result are at a higher risk of dying from stroke or heart disease.

New research from Tesco shows that many of us don’t know what the blood pressure test measures or what is generally accepted as ‘normal’ blood pressure. Meanwhile, even though it’s recommended that everyone has his or her blood pressure checked at least once every five years, this research revealed almost a quarter of us haven’t had it tested within this time.

As a result of this research, Tesco has launched a free blood pressure testing service in all of its 200 in-store pharmacies.

Penny Beck, superintendent pharmacist at Tesco says, “Knowing more about blood pressure is vitally important for all of us. High blood pressure rarely has any symptoms and the higher your blood pressure, the greater your risk of having a heart attack or stroke.”

All Tesco pharmacists have been trained to undertake the test and can provide on-the-spot help and advice following the result. If you want a free check, simply ask at the pharmacy counter – you may need to make an appointment but more often than not, you’ll be able to have it done there and then. For details of your nearest Tesco pharmacy call 0800 505 5551.

WLR says:

This is a great idea! Getting your blood pressure checked while doing your weekly shop is far less hassle than making an appointment to see your GP. But do remember that if the test finds you have high blood pressure, you’ll still need to see your GP for further monitoring and advice.

How is blood pressure measured?

A blood pressure test measures the force at which blood travels through the arteries when it’s pumped by the heart.

The highest pressure, known as systolic pressure, occurs when the beat or contraction of your heart forces the blood around the circulation. The lowest pressure, known as diastolic pressure, occurs between heartbeats.

Blood pressure is measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg) and a reading gives two numbers – the first number is the systolic pressure and the second is the diastolic pressure. A target blood pressure for adults is 140/85.

Causes of high blood pressure

Being overweight or obese, taking little exercise, drinking too much alcohol and having excessive intakes of salt can all contribute to high blood pressure.

Losing weight is one of the best things you can do to help lower blood pressure – and taking more exercise can help you achieve this.

Cutting down on alcohol will also help to lower blood pressure – and cut calorie intakes so that you find it easier to lose weight.

There is also overwhelming evidence that slashing the salt content of our diets can help to lower blood pressure. On average, most of us eat 9.5g of salt every day – but for the sake of our blood pressure, we should limit this to just 6g daily. Surprisingly, three quarters of our salt intake comes from processed foods, so it’s particularly important to eat fewer of these. This won’t do our waistlines any harm as many salty foods are also loaded with calories such as sauces, pickles, ready meals, ready-made pasta sauces, canned soups, burgers, sausages, bacon, chicken nuggets, pizzas, takeaways, crisps and savoury snacks.

Bottom Line:

A healthy lifestyle can help us lose weight and keep our blood pressure within normal limits. So stop making excuses and start taking action!

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