High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a condition where the pressure inside the arteries is higher than it should be. While it’s unlikely a person will have any symptoms, the risk of developing more serious problems like heart disease, kidney disease and stroke is increased.
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During the festive season, stress could be unknowingly raising your blood pressure.
Blood Pressure UK undertook a survey to demonstrate how stressful Christmas can be and the survey found braving the shops to be top of the list.
Professor Graham MacGregor, Chairman of Blood Pressure UK said: “As this poll shows, Christmas can be quite stressful for a lot of people; everything from trying to find somewhere to park, braving the crowds during busy times and dealing with the queues, which can cause people to feel their blood pressure rising.
“However, stress is just one of many lifestyle factors that put up our blood pressure, which causes two-thirds of all strokes and half of all heart attacks.”
Katharine Jenner, Chief Executive of Blood Pressure UK added: “Many people are unaware they have high blood pressure; there are over five million people walking around like a ticking time bomb. High blood pressure is symptomless, but the strokes and heart attacks it causes are not, which is why it is called ‘the silent killer’.
“Our advice is to stay away from the crowds if you find shopping stressful – try planning ahead or shopping online. Whilst you’re at it, add a home blood pressure monitor to your Christmas shopping list, as measuring your blood pressure at home has been shown to be a great way to take control of your health.”
The survey also identified panic of what gifts to buy (16 percent) and the cost of Christmas (12 percent) as triggers that can cause for stress. It’s not all doom and gloom though as nearly 25 percent of people said they felt no stress at all.
To keep your blood pressure down this Christmas the blood pressure charity offers seven tips.
Top tips for keeping blood pressure down at Christmas:
1. Eat less salt
The charity explains: “Salt puts up our blood pressure, even small reductions can make a big impact.
“Many of the ingredients of a Christmas dinner: bacon, sausages, gravy and stuffing are already salty – so there should be no need to add any more when you’re cooking.
“Leave the salt shaker off the dining table – we often just add salt at the table out of habit, it’s time to break that habit!”
2. Eat more fruit and veg
Potassium in fruit and vegetables has a blood pressure lowering effect.
The charity advises: “Luckily Christmas can be full of delicious options, like Clementine’s and of course, Brussel sprouts! Try and aim for at least 5 portions a day.”
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3. Avoid stress when shopping
Planning ahead and making a shopping list can save you time and effort, according to the charity.
It adds: “You can even phone ahead and check stock levels, to avoid a wasted trip! Try and avoid peak times if you can.”
4. Don’t gain weight
The charity says: “Increased body weight is linked to increased blood pressure, and no one wants to spend January on a diet, so try not to overdo it on the mince pies.”
5. The cost of Christmas
The charity advises: “Comparison websites are great for seeing who is doing the best deals, for both presents and food. Remember to try and avoid hidden costs such as parking and postage; it all adds up.”
6. Keep warm
Lower temperatures are linked to higher blood pressure.
The charity recommends: “It is very important that elderly friends and relatives keep warm: if you need help with energy bills, check out http://www.gov.uk/ for advice.”
7. Get out and do exercise
With all the cold weather (and great TV!) over Christmas, going for a run might not appeal, but a dancing lesson or a work out DVD could keep you moving and your blood pressure down, says the charity.
it adds: “A lovely (bracing!) walk on Christmas day is a great way to get your circulation going, and to burn off a few of those extra calories!”
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