High blood pressure affects around a third of adults in the UK, but many don’t know they have it. The only sure way to find out if you have a high reading is to have your blood pressure regularly checked.
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Having high blood pressure increases the risk of serious complications including kidney disease, problems with vision, heart attack, heart failure and stroke.
But high blood pressure can often be prevented or reduced through simple lifestyle changes like eating healthily.
Experts recommend cutting down on the amount of salt in your food, as well as eating a low-fat diet that includes lots of fibre, such wholegrain rice, bread and pasta, and plenty of fruit and vegetables.
Alcohol is a popular beverage during the festive season, but in order to keep blood pressure in check, should certain drinks be avoided?
The NHS warns that regularly drinking too much alcohol can raise blood pressure over time.
It advises: “Staying within the recommended levels is the best way to reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure.
“Men and women are advises not to regularly drinking more than 14 units a week.
“Spread your drinking over three days or more if you drink as much as 14 units a week.
“Alcohol is also high in calories, which will make you gain eight and can further increase your blood pressure.”
One unit of alcohol is the equivalent of 10ml or 8g of pure alcohol.
But alcoholic drinks have different strengths and come in different sizes, so knowing how many units is in a drink is not always easy.
Blood Pressure UK offers guidance for what 14 units looks like.
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The charity begins by explaining: “The alcohol content of wine ranges from 11 percent to 14 percent which means a single 175ml glass can contain between 1.9 and 2.4 units and a 250ml glass can contain between 2.8 and 3.5 units.
- Six 175ml glasses of wine (13 percent)
- Six pints of normal-strength beer or ale (4 percent)
- Five pints of cider (4.5 percent)
- 14 single 25ml measures of spirits (40 percent)
The charity adds: “Remember if your drinks are stronger than this (have a higher percentage of alcohol) then 14 units will be less.
“You should aim to spread your drinking over a few days and avoid binge drinking which is classed as drinking more than six units in six hours – that’s less than three 175ml glasses of wine or three pints of beer in an evening.”
If you are wanting to drink alcohol, Blood Pressure UK offers some useful tips to help you gave a good night out (or in) without having to worry about your reading:
- Try low-alcohol options – there are now a number of lower-strength beers on the market
- Check the label – many drinks’ labels now tell you how many units they contain
- Make your drinks last longer by adding mixers or water
- Don’t eat bar snacks like crisps and peanuts – the added salt will make you want to drink more, and will raise your blood pressure
- If you drink at home, buy a measure so that you know how much you are drinking.
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