Seven in ten British adults and almost half of under 35s now have high blood pressure due to lifestyle
Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 12:03 AM on 14th February 2012
Seven in ten adults are at greater risk of stroke or heart attack because their blood pressure is too high, a study has found.
Senior doctors said unhealthy lifestyles were to blame. Desk jobs, lack of exercise and feasting on salty fast foods have contributed to the problem, even among the young.
Almost half of under-35s have blood pressure above healthy limits and a third are in the high to very high range, figures from LloydsPharmacy show.
Office workers are amongst those most likely to have high blood pressure
Results of the more than 100,000 blood pressure tests it has carried out since 2003 show that 70 per cent of all adults are in the unhealthy range.
Leslie Hamilton, a consultant cardiac surgeon at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle, said: 'These figures are a real concern and a stark reminder that high blood pressure is a major issue in the UK.
'The number of people suffering from high blood pressure is increasing and the age at which people develop it is getting ever younger.
'In my job as a heart surgeon, I see the effects of high blood pressure and heart disease every day.
'High blood pressure can lead to debilitating strokes and fatal heart attacks.
'Many people put their heart problems down to genetics, but your blood pressure is one area that you can control with lifestyle changes and medicine.
'It can be caused by smoking, salty diets, being overweight, not taking enough exercise, high cholesterol and diabetes.
Exercising is seen as a good way to combat the increase in blood pressure levels
'Although less people now smoke, modern lifestyles mean people are eating more high-salt junk food and doing less exercise.
'By making positive changes, people can help combat high blood pressure.
'However, the condition is known as the silent killer because people do not report any symptoms and it is only detectable by measurement.'
Blood pressure is reported as two numbers – the first when the heart is contracting, known as the systolic pressure, and the second when the heart is releasing, known as the diastolic pressure.
It is measured in millimetres of mercury, or mmHg.
Shafeeque Mohammed, heart health expert at LloydsPharmacy, said a blood pressure of 120/80 was good.
He added: 'Anybody with a blood pressure of more than 140/90 should be concerned and needs to make lifestyle changes.
'Modern lifestyles are largely to blame for the upward trend in people suffering from high blood pressure.
'Many people have sedentary jobs, work long hours and leave little time to eat healthily or take exercise.
'However, it is important people are educated to the risks so they can do something about it.
'If nothing is done, it could become a massive burden on the NHS, especially with an ageing population.'