Dr Chris Steele shares diet tips on reducing blood pressure
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Having high blood pressure – also known as hypertension – is fairly common in the UK – with around a third of all adults thought to be living with the condition. If not treated it can be dangerous as it puts a strain on your organs. This raises the risk of conditions such as heart attacks, strokes and kidney disease.
According to Giles Edmonds, clinical services director at Specsavers, having red spots at the front of your eyes could be cause for concern.
He explained: “Red spots on the front of your eyes can often be caused by broken blood vessels from something as simple as a cough or a sneeze.
“While in most cases they are nothing to worry about, if your eyes remain red for some time it is important to get them looked at as it could be an indication of high blood pressure.”
High blood pressure can also cause further issues with your eyes.
“High blood pressure can mean you have a higher risk of a heart attack or stroke and it can also lead to complications with your vision,” Mr Edmonds said.
“During an eye test, your optometrist might also spot signs of high blood pressure, through observing the eye’s blood vessels to see if they have narrowed or started leaking.
“Patients with high blood pressure can develop a condition called hypertensive retinopathy which sees the walls of blood vessels thicken, narrow and restrict blood flow.
“In some cases the retina also becomes swollen and the blood vessels can leak.”
He advised booking an appointment with your optician if you have concerns about these symptoms.
There are a number of factors that can increase your risk of high blood pressure.
These include if you:
- Are overweight
- Eat too much salt and do not eat enough fruit and vegetables
- Do not do enough exercise
- Drink too much alcohol or coffee (or other caffeine-based drinks)
- Do not get much sleep or have disturbed sleep
- Are over 65
- Have a relative with high blood pressure
- Are of black African or black Caribbean descent
- Live in a deprived area.
Blood pressure is measured by two numbers, the systolic pressure (the higher number) and diastolic pressure (lower).
High blood pressure is considered to be 140/90 millimetres of mercury (mmHg) or higher.
Or if you’re over the age of 80, 150/90mmHg or higher is considered too high.
Ideal blood pressure is usually considered to be between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg.
To reduce blood pressure the NHS recommends:
- Reducing the amount of salt you eat and have a generally healthy diet
- Cutting back on alcohol
- Losing weight if you’re overweight
- Exercising regularly
- Cutting down on caffeine
- Giving up smoking.
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