Blood pressure is the amount of pressure that blood puts on your blood vessel walls as it is pumped around the body. Certain factors such as being overweight, lack of exercise and, in particular, a high salt diet can raise your blood pressure, leading to heart attacks and strokes. A third of adults have high blood pressure, defined as 140/90 mmHg, and many don’t even know they have it as it has no symptoms; your GP will be able to check your blood pressure for you. The risk of disease starts within the normal range of blood pressure, well below 140/90 mmHg, so most people will benefit from lowering theirs. It’s a myth that developing high blood pressure is inevitable as you grow older, keeping your salt intake down, watching what you eat and taking exercise will keep it under control.
Click here for a fact sheet about Salt and Blood Pressure
A stroke usually occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off, reducing the flow of oxygen to the brain, causing cells to die. There are two main types of stroke; ischemic strokes, when a blood vessel becomes blocked, and haemorrhagic strokes, when a blood vessel bursts and bleeds into the brain. Stroke is the third biggest killer in the UK and a leading cause of severe adult disability. High blood pressure is the single most important risk factor for stroke and salt is the major factor that raises blood pressure, salt is therefore responsible for many of these strokes. Stroke is not an inevitable part of aging and many can be prevented by keeping blood pressure under control, through salt reduction, exercise and healthy eating.