A MORAY pharmacy is aiming to unravel the mystery of blood pressure numbers by encouraging people to get regularly tested.
Help and advice on recognising health warning signs through blood pressure readings is available at Bishopmill Pharmacy as part of the Know Your Numbers awareness week.
The national campaign is aimed at helping to reduce any confusion over what ideal blood pressure levels should be, and the Elgin store is offering free tests this week to encourage the public to learn more about the risks.
Pharmacist Alistair Smith said not enough people are aware of what their reading should be, and don’t know that monitoring their blood pressure on a regular basis is vital to help identify potential signs of hypertension.
Two readings make up your typical blood pressure results, the first measuring it at its highest when your heart beats to pump the blood and the second a lower reading gauging your blood pressure when your heart relaxes between beats.
"An ideal reading would be under 140/90 which is also referred to as 140 over 90," Mr Smith revealed. "Anything between 140-179/90-109 would need you to take action such as changing your diet and incorporating a healthy lifestyle. A reading 180/110 or above could indicate an increased risk of heart disease and you should see your doctor.
The Elgin pharmicist said many people could tell you straight away what their tyre pressure levels for their car should be, but wouldn’t have a clue what their blood pressure should be.
"That is unfortunate because blood pressure is a very accurate pointer to possibly dangerous health problems, and regular checks are essential to spot changes," he said. "There is no need for an appointment. People can just pop in, have their reading taken, receive advice and be on their way within minutes – and all at no cost."
A giant school road crossing lollipop stick is on display at the North Street store to highlight the campaign, and free etsts are available until Friday this week.
Mr Smith said cardiovascular disease is the UK’s biggest silent killer, and people are wrong to assume that being overweight was the only risk of developing problems.
"Unhealthy diet and not taking enough exercise can also be major reasons for the high blood pressure that is the disease’s most common cause.
"About one in 10 has a high reading, but it can be brought down by following a healthy lifestyle that includes eating five portions of fruit and veg a day and taking regular exercise."
Campaign organisers Blood Pressure UK said regular tests were the only way to detect high blood pressure because usually there are no signs or symptoms.
Professor Graham MacGregor, chairman of Blood Pressure UK said: "We are urging everyone to become more aware of this silent killer, as for too many it can be a case of out of sight, out of mind.
"High blood pressure is a dangerous condition when not managed properly and we hope everyone will take advantage of the free blood pressure checks in their area to lower their risk of having a stroke or a heart attack".
Health tips on how to lower blood pressure include cutting back on salt intake and drinking alcohol, maintaining a healthy weight through regular exercise, eating more healthily and stopping smoking.
For more advice and information visit www.allabouthealth.org.uk.