What is blood pressure?

Blood pressure is the force that blood puts on the walls of your arteries when it is pumped around your body by your heart.

It is measured with two readings – when the heart beats (systolic pressure) and when it relaxes (diastolic pressure). This is shown as the systolic pressure ‘over’ the diastolic pressure e.g. 120/80.

High blood pressure puts a strain on all the blood vessels in your body. This makes a blockage more likely to develop and move, or a blood vessel in the brain weaken and bleed, both could cause a stroke.

High blood pressure often has no symptoms but it is the biggest risk factor for stroke. The only way to know if you have high blood pressure is to have your blood pressure tested regularly.

Both lifestyle changes and medication can help to lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of stroke.

Do you know your blood pressure?

One in seven people in the UK are diagnosed as having high blood pressure.

For every 10 people diagnosed with high blood pressure, seven remain undiagnosed and untreated. High blood pressure is the biggest risk factor for stroke that we can control and can affect people of all ages and lifestyles, yet it often has no symptoms.

Measuring blood pressure is quick, simple and painless. Find out more about how you can get your blood pressure checked

What to do if your blood pressure is high

If you take your blood pressure and are concerned that is it high, you should see a medical professional, e.g. a pharmacist, nurse or your GP, for further guidance.

If you attend a KYBP event and are advised to see your GP by making a routine appointment or urgent appointment, it is important that you do so.

Your GP will be able to discuss your blood pressure reading in more detail, taking into account your general health and any conditions you may have.

Individuals with high blood pressure (hypertension) may need to take medication to reduce it, and making changes to your lifestyle could also help to bring it down. 

Any medication you take will be tailored to your individual needs by your doctor. Some people may need to take more than one medication to control their blood pressure, and you and your doctor may need to try several different types before you find the ones that suit you best.  

Find out more about high blood pressure and other stroke risk factors, as well as how to reduce your risk.