When you visit your doctor it is common to have your blood pressure checked, and for good reason. We not only think about our heart health and reducing the risk of heart disease but our brain health too. High blood pressure can increase the risk of stroke, both of the blocked artery (ischaemic) and bleed in the brain (haemorrhagic) types. We now have increasing evidence too for the importance of maintaining good blood pressure control in reducing dementia risk. High blood pressure can associate with small vessel or so-called white matter changes within the brain, and lead to cognitive slowing.
The numbers are important. An ideal blood pressure depends a little on patient circumstance, however a top number of below 120 systolic and lower of 80 is deemed optimum, especially for those with diabetes or other vascular risk. Home monitoring over 24 hours is an option for those uncertain of their blood pressure with usual home measurements.
There are other benefits to be had by avoiding any smoking, heavy drinking, addressing cholesterol well, keeping active with exercise, and maintaining adequate sleep and nutrition, for optimum weight maintenance. It is good to consider reducing anxiety and obtaining assistance if needed, such as relaxation, counselling or clinical psychology, or medication in some instances.
Remember, blood pressure is most often treatable, so whenever you think of your health in general, think blood pressure.