Living With High Blood Pressure

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Understanding your diagnosis

How to read your blood pressure

When you’re diagnosed with high blood pressure, you’ll come across a range of medical terms and your doctor will probably use specific numbers to describe your condition. We’re here to help you make sense of it all.

Everyone should know their blood pressure. You can make an appointment at your GP practice to get it checked, or just ask for it to be taken while you’re there for an appointment.

Your blood pressure reading is made up of 2 numbers. You might hear your reading described as one number ‘over’ another. For example ‘120 over 80’.

Systolic pressure: This is the highest level of your blood pressure, when your heart contracts to pump blood.

Diastolic pressure: This is the lowest level of your blood pressure, when your heart relaxes between beats.

mmHg is a unit for measuring blood pressure.

Understand your blood pressure reading >

Ann’s story

When Ann found out she had high blood pressure, it was a total shock. She shares her story of how some small changes to her lifestyle helped make a big difference.

Why does high blood pressure matter?

High blood pressure doesn’t often have symptoms, but that doesn’t mean it’s not serious.

Normal arteries (the tubes that carry blood from your heart around your body) are stretchy to cope with your blood pressure going up and down. If you have high blood pressure, your arteries lose their stretchiness and become stiff or narrow. This makes it easier for fatty material to clog up them up.

When your arteries are clogged, there is less space for your blood to flow through making it harder for your blood to deliver oxygen to your heart and other organs. This can lead to a heart attack or stroke.

Order or download our booklet to find out more about managing your diagnosis >

What’s your heart age?

We’ve teamed up with NHS Choices to bring you a new way to check your risk of having a heart attack or stroke. Find out how your heart age compares to your real age and find out how you can improve your result.

Check your heart age >

Call our Heart Helpline

Our Heart Helpline has Cardiac Nurses available to answer your questions.

Call us on 0300 330 3311 or email

Content on HealthUnlocked does not replace the relationship between you and doctors or other healthcare professionals nor the advice you receive from them.

Never delay seeking advice or dialling emergency services because of something that you have read on HealthUnlocked.