High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)
High blood pressure (hypertension) is one of the most important preventable causes of premature morbidity and mortality in the UK. It is a major risk factor for ischaemic and haemorrhagic stroke, myocardial infarction, heart failure, chronic kidney disease, cognitive decline and premature death.
How high is the blood pressure in hypertension?
Blood pressure is normally distributed in the population and there is no natural cut-off point above which 'hypertension' definitively exists and below which it does not. We do know that the risks associated with an increase in blood pressure are continuous such that each 2mmHg rise in systolic blood pressure is associated with a 7% increased risk of mortality from ischaemic heart disease and a 10% increased risk of mortality from stroke.
How common is high blood pressure?
It is extremely common in the UK and it is more common as you get older. People can have a rise in their systolic and/or diastolic blood pressure and diastolic pressure is more commonly elevated in people younger than 50. With ageing, systolic hypertension becomes a more significant problem, as a result of progressive stiffening and loss of compliance of larger arteries. At least one quarter of adults (and more than half of those older than 60) have high blood pressure.