Common ailments

Hypertension (high blood pressure)

My doctor has recently told me that I have high blood pressure. I am not overweight but my doctor has said that adding too much salt to my food may have caused this. Should I be worried?

Blood pressure measures how strongly blood pushes against the walls of your arteries (large blood vessels) as it is pumped around your body by your heart. Adding too much salt to your food can raise blood pressure to dangerous levels. Left untreated, high blood pressure (medically known as hypertension) puts a lot of strain on your heart and increases the risk of a heart attack or stroke. High blood pressure rarely has symptoms and so you would not have known you had high blood pressure had your GP not measured it.

There are many factors that can contribute to high blood pressure and these include being overweight, not getting enough exercise, an unhealthy diet, too much alcohol or caffeine and excessive amounts of salt in your diet.

Your doctor may have advised that your blood pressure will need to be closely monitored until it is brought under control. Changes to your lifestyle such as not adding salt to food, getting more exercise, drinking less alcohol and eating more fruit and vegetables are a good way to bring your blood pressure back down to normal levels. Taking time out to relax can also help. In some cases however, medication may also be required.

Treatment depends largely on your blood pressure levels and your risk of developing a cardiovascular disease, such as a heart attack or stroke. A family history of hypertension will also be taken into account. Your GP will be able to advise you on whether simple lifestyle adjustments are enough or whether medication is also required.

Back to list