By Sandra Jones and Matthew Lancaster in The Conversation.
More than 7m people in the UK have high blood pressure; it is a leading cause of cardiovascular disease and cardiovascular events such as heart attacks and strokes, associated with one in four deaths. As many as 5.6m people in the UK do not realise they have it as they feel fine, while others show signs such as shortness of breath, persistent headaches, blurred vision or nosebleeds. So, what is blood pressure and why is it so important?
Your heart is a pump, roughly the size of your fist. Contraction of the heart muscle generates a force, causing pressure to rise in your blood vessels, which drives the flow of blood around your body. This flow works continually to supply oxygen and nutrients to organs through your arteries and removes waste products through your veins too. The problems begin when the pressure becomes so high that it begins to cause damage to the blood vessels and increase the workload on the heart.
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