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Most people with high blood pressure don’t have any symptoms. So, you may not realise that your blood pressure is high. The only way to find out if your blood pressure is high is to have it checked. It’s a good idea to have your blood pressure checked at least every five years.
If you have high blood pressure, your GP can prescribe medicines to control it. But there’s a lot you can do yourself too. This includes losing weight, being more active, drinking less alcohol and eating a healthy diet. For more information, see our section on treatment.
You wear a small digital machine on a belt round your waist and an inflatable cuff on your upper arm for 24 hours. Your blood pressure will be measured every hour or so, including overnight. You should carry on your normal activities, but you’ll need to avoid getting the equipment wet. Your nurse or GP will explain what the test involves and will be able to answer any questions you have about it.
There are several medicines that can lower blood pressure. Your doctor will offer you those most likely to be the best for you in your particular circumstances. There are national guidelines to help them make this decision. If your medicine doesn’t lower your blood pressure enough or you’re getting side-effects, your doctor may suggest making a change. This may be changing the dose, adding another medicine or trying a different combination of medicines.
If you have a car or motorcycle licence, you don’t have to tell the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) that you have high blood pressure. However, you shouldn’t drive if the medicines you’re taking give you side-effects which affect how you drive. Talk to your GP if this happens.
If you have a licence to drive a bus, coach or lorry, you must tell the DVLA that you have high blood pressure. If your blood pressure is very high you may need to stop driving until it’s under control.
People sometimes wonder what a dangerously high blood pressure would be. Having high blood pressure increases your chance of serious health conditions such as heart attack, stroke and kidney disease. So, in a sense, all high blood pressure could be said to be dangerous. However, if by ‘dangerously high’ we mean something which needs immediate treatment, this would be a blood pressure of 180/110mmHg or above. If your blood pressure is this high, your GP will probably refer you to a specialist immediately.
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This information was published by Bupa's Health Content Team and is based on reputable sources of medical evidence. It has been reviewed by appropriate medical or clinical professionals and deemed accurate on the date of review. Photos are only for illustrative purposes and do not reflect every presentation of a condition.
Any information about a treatment or procedure is generic, and does not necessarily describe that treatment or procedure as delivered by Bupa or its associated providers.
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