Blood pressure is the pressure of blood against the walls of the arteries.
Even if you are healthy, you should regularly check your blood pressure. Its normal for blood pressure to change across the day. For example, your blood pressure will be higher when you are doing exercise compared to when you are sitting down.
However, when your blood pressure is always high, and is not controlled, you have a higher risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
The latest data (2017/18) from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare shows that more than 1 in 4 men in outer regional and remote Australia, and more than 1 in 5 women, suffer from uncontrolled high blood pressure.
What causes high blood pressure?
High blood pressure can be caused by a number of possible factors including:
a family history of high blood pressure.
diet, such eating too much salt.
drinking too much alcohol.
experiencing mental anxiety or stress.
your level of physical activity.
How can I find out if I have high blood pressure?
When you visit your rural GP he or she should check your blood pressure to make sure its OK. Generally, this will be a regular part of your check-up from 45 years of age onward. If you haven't had a blood pressure check recently, then make an appointment with your local rural GP or ask for a blood pressure check at your next appointment.
How is my blood pressure measured?
Your rural GP or nurse will normally start by asking you some questions about your health and any family history of high blood pressure, as well as things that might contribute to high blood pressure in your lifestyle. This gives the doctor or nurse some information about your risk of having high blood pressure.
If you are a regular patient of the doctor, this may have been done at a previous appointment.
The doctor or nurse will then take a blood pressure reading using a blood pressure monitor.
The monitor has an adjustable cuff that is fitted around your upper arm. Your blood pressure should be taken when are seated and not moving. The GP or nurse will inflate the cuff with air and stop the blood flow through the artery in your arm for a little while. This is completely safe and you will just feel a little pressure, like someone grabbing your arm.
As the cuff deflates, your blood will begin to flow again. The blood pressure monitor will then measure the vibration in the wall of your artery. This is called your systolic pressure.
The monitor will also take a measurement when your blood starts flowing again and there is no vibration in the wall of your artery. This is called your diastolic pressure.
What is a good blood pressure reading?
This will depend on your age, lifestyle and other factors. However, generally a blood pressure reading of 120/80 (that is a reading of 120 systolic pressure and 80 diastolic pressure) is considered good. See the chart below for more information on blood pressure.
What happens if the doctor finds that I have high blood pressure?
This will depend on the cause and the level of your blood pressure. Your doctor may talk to you about lifestyle changes or could recommend a medicine that will help to reduce your blood pressure in some cases.