DO YOU KNOW YOUR NUMBERS?
Monday 7th to Sunday 13th September is ‘Know Your Numbers Week;’ sevens days dedicated to raising awareness around blood pressure (BP) numbers, and encouraging us to take the necessary action to reach and maintain a healthy blood pressure. Know Your Numbers week is the UK’s biggest and most far reaching blood pressure event and awareness week, something we have always supported but have also championed every month of the year as part of our employee well@work health checks.
THE IMPORTANCE OF YOUR HEALTH NUMBERS
When we think about it, we live our lives by numbers: phone numbers, PIN numbers, pass codes etc. But do you know the health numbers that could literally save your life?
These include: your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, blood sugar, waist measurements and weight!
Put simply, these numbers can be life changing as you can cut your risk of heart and kidney disease, stroke and diabetes by keeping a check on your numbers like these! Vital warning signs about your future health could be revealed by these numbers!
Healthy numbers mean a healthy heart. If you follow a healthy lifestyle eat a balanced diet, get regular exercise, and avoid smoking you can even turn bad numbers around. Small changes can make a big difference!
WHAT IS HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE & WHY IS IT SO IMPORTANT?
Firstly, we need to understand exactly what our blood pressure is. When your heart beats, it pumps blood round your body to give it the energy and oxygen it needs. As the blood moves, it pushes against the sides of the blood vessels. The strength of this pushing is your blood pressure. If your blood pressure is too high, it puts extra strain on your arteries (and your heart) and this may lead to heart attacks and strokes
Blood pressure consists of two numbers. Your systolic pressure measures the pressure of blood against artery walls when the heart pumps blood out during a heartbeat, while the diastolic pressure measures the same pressure between heartbeats, when the heart fills with blood. Both of these numbers are important.
- Normal blood pressure is below 120/80.
- Pre-hypertension is 120 to 139 (systolic) and/or 80 to 89 (diastolic).
- Hypertension – also known as high blood pressure is 140 or higher (systolic) and 90 or higher (diastolic).
HOW TO LOWER YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE (BP)
An unhealthy lifestyle will raise your blood pressure over time. And the higher your blood pressure becomes, the higher your risk of having a stroke or heart attack in the future.
But the good news is that if you have high blood pressure, healthy changes will help to bring it down. And you don’t have to wait until you have high blood pressure to make healthy lifestyle changes. The more you can reduce your blood pressure, the lower your risk of a heart attack or stroke will be.
1. EAT LESS SALT
Too much salt raises your blood pressure, so it is important to eat as little as possible. In fact, some people with high blood pressure may be able to avoid blood pressure medicines by cutting down on salt. Most of the salt you eat is not what you add to your food, but is in prepared foods like bread, breakfast cereals and ready meals. Don’t add salt to food when cooking or at the table. When shopping for food, check the labels and choose low-salt options.
2. EAT MORE FRUIT AND VEGETABLES
Eating more fruit and vegetables helps to lower your blood pressure. Adults should eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables every day, try for seven. A portion is 80 grams, or roughly the size of your fist. Try to eat a range of different fruits and vegetables. Dried, frozen and tinned are fine, but watch out for added salt, sugar or fats. Always go for seasonal where possible!
3. KEEP TO A HEALTHY WEIGHT
Losing weight, if you need to, will help lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of health problems. The best way to lose weight is to choose more natural, non processed, low fat foods, and to increase your physical activity. Set yourself realistic goals. Make small changes to your eating habits that you can keep to for life, for instance eat little and often. And stay hydrated too!
4. DRINK LESS ALCOHOL
If you drink too much alcohol, this will raise your blood pressure over time. The current recommended limits are 14 units of alcohol a week for men and women. A unit is roughly half a pint of beer or cider, a small glass of wine, or a single pub measure of spirits. If you keep to the recommended alcohol limits, this should help keep your blood pressure down.
5. MANAGE STRESS
When you’re stressed, you may “cope” in unhealthy ways that can raise your blood pressure. Also, the coronavirus may have caused you to feel worried, stressed or even anxious? Whilst this won’t cause long-term high blood pressure (hypertension), episodes of anxiety can cause dramatic, temporary spikes in your blood pressure. Try managing stress in healthy ways, such as breathing techniques, increasing your activity levels and even trying pilates or yoga?
6. GET MORE ACTIVE
Being moderately active for 30 minutes, five times a week can keep your heart healthy, and can lower your blood pressure. If you can’t find 30 minutes in your day, increasing your activity by even a small amount can help. Think about how you can be more active in your daily life. Any activity that leaves you feeling warm and slightly out of breath counts!
“EVEN SMALL CHANGES IN YOUR PHYSICAL ACTIVITY, YOUR NUTRITION, AND YOUR SMOKING HABITS CAN HAVE A MAJOR IMPACT ON YOUR HEART HEALTH.”
TESTING YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE
As a result of the Coronavirus outbreak, we have been unable to carry out our on-site health checks. The good news is however we are now re-starting these sessions in workplaces around the country. In the meantime however we are also keen to help individuals to test at home too.
Home Blood Pressure Monitoring (HBPM) is a way of helping you to feel in control again (and also take the pressure off the NHS too). Here are a few tips to help but please contact us if you want to know more about which reliable monitor to purchase and guidelines of how to accurately take your reading.
BEFORE YOU MEASURE YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE:
- Avoid things that can raise your blood pressure in the short term. Don’t measure your blood pressure within half an hour of eating, smoking, drinking caffeinated drinks such as coffee, or exercising. These can all raise your blood pressure temporarily. If you need to use the toilet, go before you measure your blood pressure.
- Wear loose-fitting clothes. Wear a short-sleeved t-shirt or something with sleeves you can push up easily, nothing tight. This is so that you can fit the cuff around your arm.
- Rest for five minutes before you take your reading. Sit down somewhere quiet, ideally at a desk or table. Have your back supported with your arm resting on a firm surface and your feet flat on the floor. Stay in this position while you take your blood pressure.
- Make sure your arm is supported and at the same level as your heart. Position yourself so that your arm is resting on a surface and is at the same height as your heart. Keep your arm and hand relaxed, not tensed.
- Make sure you are relaxed and comfortable. If you are anxious or uncomfortable, your blood pressure will rise temporarily.
If you still feel unsure then check with your employer. If you are a Tonic customer then you will be able to book a virtual health check and we can talk you safely through the process.
For over 16 years, the Tonic Team have been carrying out workplace health checks, helping individuals become the architect of their own health. Taking ownership, educating and motivating employees to change their health behaviours; to reduce their risks and make healthier choices linked to pillars of wellbeing (physical activity, nutrition, sleep, relaxation and stress). These five pillars work together to keep our body and mind healthy – if we make the right choices!
In our 1-2-1 sessions – whether in person or on-line, your Tonic practitioner will share some actionable tips that will make improving your health not just something you could do but something you WANT and CAN do.
Find out more about how to manage your blood pressure by downloading our PDF: CLICK HERE
If you don’t think your employer is signed up to a Tonic well@work programme, simply send yours and your managers details to us firstname.lastname@example.org and you will receive a £500.00 referral reward when they sign up!