What should my ‘ideal’ blood pressure be?
This varies according to your age and other conditions, and your doctor will discuss with you what your individual ideal ‘target’ should be.
Rough ‘targets’ for the average of your readings:
- For people under 80, less than 140 systolic and less than 90 diastolic (140/90)
- For people over 80, less than 150 systolic and less than 90 diastolic (150/90)
If you have diabetes, kidney disease or other conditions these ‘targets’ may be lower. If the average of the readings is OK, but you have some very high readings (e.g. more than 180 systolic or more than 110 diastolic) then let your doctor or nurse know.
Lifestyle and Blood Pressure
The good news is there is a lot you can do to reduce blood pressure naturally. Even if you are on medication, reducing your BP further through lifestyle change will reduce your risk of a future heart attack or stroke. The research is incredibly strong that regular exercise, losing some weight and changing what you eat is very beneficial for your blood pressure. One of the many advantages of home monitoring is that you can soon start to see the benefits of making these changes!
To help reduce your blood pressure naturally you should increase:
- Regular aerobic exercise that you enjoy
- Fruits, vegetables and whole grains in the diet
- Fish and poultry
- Low fat dairy products
- Relaxation exercises and stress reduction have been show to reduce blood pressure
And you should decrease
- Weight! Even small amounts may make a difference…
- Salt and sodium (no added salt, and eat mostly low salt foods which means label watching and looking for <300mg salt per 100g of food or <0.1g sodium per 100g food whenever possible)
- Total and saturated fat and red meats
- Sugar and sweet drinks
- Refined carbohydrate (white bread, pasta etc)
- Alcohol (except very modest quantities, less than 1-2 drinks daily)
- Excessive caffeine
If you smoke, this is much more dangerous with high blood pressure and we strongly urge you to stop. We can help you with this. It seems hard, but people succeed at it all the time and then live longer and healthier lives as a result.
For more specific information on diet (for example, on how to read labels for sodium/salt and what to look out for) see:
We particularly recommend the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stopping Hypertension) for patients with high blood pressure. This has been proven to be very effective at reducing blood pressure. For those that want detailed guidance on this diet see the link below (or you can buy books about the DASH diet) but the essence is a low sodium, low fat, high fruit and vegetable diet as outlined above.
High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) Monitoring
We have machines in our waiting rooms that can be used at any time and would encourage you to use them and fill in the health monitoring forms or the 'your clinical record' section of our website to update your record.
There is increasing evidence that measuring blood pressure at home is a useful and accurate way to assess the response to changes in lifestyle or medications. Below are a few important tips on the correct procedure for monitoring your blood pressure at home. Many patients chose to buy their own blood pressure monitor - Click Here to see the advice on the devices that have been validated by The British Hypertension Society.
If you need more information, the UK Blood Pressure association has a useful page which includes a video guide on how to measure it accurately.
We have a limited number of monitors which can be loaned for a week from the surgery, ask at reception.
How to monitor your blood pressure at home
Once you have the monitor, follow these simple instructions;
- Measure from the upper arm using an accurate device
- Take your blood pressure whilst seated, with your arm and back supported, legs uncrossed and whilst you are not talking - talking and crossed legs increase blood pressure.
- Measure your blood pressure in both arms, and if there is a consistent difference of more than 20mmHg then always use arm with higher reading.
- Take two readings, at least a minute apart, morning and evening for 7 days recording the lower of the two readings onto a sheet of paper or a computer spreadsheet. The systolic reading is the upper reading and the diastolic reading the lower one.
- Once you have completed 7 days of measurements, calculate the average of all the readings. Your doctor will want to know the average, and also the range from the lowest to the highest readings you have got.
- Monitor every 3 months, or every 4-6 weeks after a change in your medication dosage.
- Please fill in the 'your clinical record' section on the home page of our website with your up-to-date blood pressure.
These links all come from trusted resources but if you are unsure about these or any other medical matters please contact your doctor or pharmacist for advice.