High blood pressure myths
Here are some of the more popular myths surrounding high blood pressure.
Myth 1: People who are anxious, stressed or hyperactive are more likely to develop high blood pressure.Truth: Not necessarily. Anyone can develop high blood pressure and the risk increases the older you get. Being constantly on the go or anxious will cause your blood pressure to rise but this settles down once you relax.
Your blood pressure tends to rise and fall throughout the day, usually as a response to certain activities. So if you are busy or stressed, your blood pressure will rise as a response to that.
Someone who leads a stressed lifestyle which includes smoking, excess alcohol consumption and a poor diet is at an increased risk of high blood pressure.
Find out more in our causes of high blood pressure section.
Myth 2: High blood pressure causes symptoms such as nervousness, anxiety and insomnia.
Truth: It is very rare to experience any symptoms of high blood pressure which is why this condition is often known as the ‘silent killer’.
In many cases, people are unaware that they have high blood pressure and very often, it only comes to light when they have their blood pressure measured as part of a routine check up.
It is a good idea to have your blood pressure checked on a regular basis, especially if you are aged 45 and above.
Find out more in our symptoms of high blood pressure section.
Myth 3: High blood pressure is part of modern life
Truth: This is a very common medical condition but is by no means inevitable. No-one is entirely sure as to why it happens but primary high blood pressure affects around 90 to 95% of people in the UK.
Your age, gender and family history all determine how likely it is you will develop high blood pressure but your lifestyle plays a major part.
There has been an increase in the numbers of people with high blood pressure and this is still rising.
The reason why so many people have high blood pressure could be due to their lifestyles. We all lead busy lives and that accompanied by a rise in obesity levels, sedentary occupations and convenience food all play a part in contributing to this increase.
This is discussed in more detail in our treating high blood pressure section.
High blood pressure should not be seen as a way of life as left untreated, it can lead to life threatening conditions such as a heart attack or stroke.
Myth 4: Only men suffer from high blood pressure.
Truth: Wrong. Both sexes can develop high blood pressure. Men are more likely to develop this after the age of 45 but this evens out over time.
Women are at less risk of high blood pressure which may be due to the protective effects of oestrogen but this changes once they reach the menopause.
The situation then changes to one in which women are a greater risk of high blood pressure than men.
Myth 5: It is dangerous to exercise if you have high blood pressure.
Truth: Your blood pressure does increase when you exercise but then settles down again at rest. This increase worries people but rest assured that it doesn’t mean that you have a greater risk of a heart attack or stroke.
The good news is that exercise especially that which is undertaken on a regular basis helps to lower your blood pressure. Plus it is good for your heart health and fitness as a whole.
If you are aged 40 or above then consult your GP before undertaking any exercise but you will find that you are safe to do so.
Find out more in our treating high blood pressure section.
Myth 6: You can stop taking medication for high blood pressure once it is stabilised.
Truth: Wrong. High blood pressure is a life long complaint. If you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure then you will have to continue with your medication. You must do this even if your blood pressure has stabilised. Your medication will help lower your blood pressure but if you stop taking it then this level will rise again.
Myth 7: You cannot prevent high blood pressure if you have a family history of this condition.
Truth: High blood pressure can be prevented even if it runs in your family. A family history doesn’t mean that you will automatically get high blood pressure just that you have an increased risk of doing so.
But there are a few things you can do to prevent this. These include not smoking, watching your alcohol consumption, eating healthily (reducing your salt intake) and taking exercise.
Myth 8: You do not need to get your blood pressure checked until you reach your forties or above.
Truth: It is true that you have an increased risk of developing high blood pressure once you reach middle age. But, younger people can also develop this condition.
In fact, children and teenagers can get high blood pressure.
High blood pressure can affect anyone and at any age. So, it is a good idea to have your blood pressure checked on regular intervals, irrespective of age.
Myth 9: If you have raised cholesterol levels then you will develop high blood pressure.
Truth: Not necessarily. High cholesterol levels don’t cause high blood pressure but they are a risk factor for other conditions such as heart disease.
A diet high in saturated fat and/or salt can increase cholesterol levels as well as blood pressure. This is just one of several lifestyle factors which determine your chances of developing high blood pressure.
Myth 10: Low blood pressure increases your risk of a stroke.
Truth: Wrong. Low blood pressure means that you are less likely to have a stroke or a heart attack than someone with high blood pressure.
Low blood pressure does not lead to a stroke.
Find out more in our low blood pressure section.
These myths include information about a couple of the long term health risks of high blood pressure such as heart attacks and strokes. Find out more about these and other related diseases in our next section.
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