Diagnosing high blood pressure
High blood pressure, also called hypertension, affects around 30% of people in England. However, many people don’t know they have it because it doesn’t usually cause any obvious symptoms, gaining it the nickname the ‘silent killer’.
Untreated, high blood pressure increases a person's risk of having a heart attack or stroke. That's why all healthy adults over 40 should have their blood pressure checked at least every 5 years.
People with heart conditions, kidney problems or other risk factors, such as diabetes, will have their blood pressure monitored more often as part of their overall care.
Measuring blood pressure
You can get your blood pressure measured by your GP or practice nurse, at most pharmacies, or you can buy a blood pressure monitor to use at home.
Blood pressure is usually measured with an electronic device with an automatically inflating arm cuff, but some doctors and nurses still prefer the old fashioned aneroid sphygmomanometer, which consists of using a stethoscope, arm cuff, dial, pump and valve.
A person should rest for at least 5 minutes and have an empty bladder before having their blood pressure tested.
For accurate reading, the person should also be sitting down and not talking during the reading.