No pressure... test is easy and painless

Chris Cordner gets and 'I know my blood pressure' sticker from the Stroke Association's Sue Orley after a successful test
Chris Cordner gets and 'I know my blood pressure' sticker from the Stroke Association's Sue Orley after a successful test

ARE you at the peak of your fitness? Or do you wonder whether your health could be better?

Either way, it is important to get yourself checked out.

After all, anyone with a high blood pressure could be running the risk of a stroke or heart attack.

The Mail’s head of features Chris Cordner took time to have his checked.

IT took less than five minutes.

And at the end of an extremely easy and painless test, I had the answer I was hoping for. My blood pressure is in the perfect range for a healthy person.

Phew! The butterflies and the nerves which had overwhelmed me minutes earlier had immediately gone and I could relax.

For me, this was an important test .

I come from a family where stroke has played a tragic role, taking my grandmother’s life.

A high blood pressure is a good indicator of whether a person could be at risk.

Susan Orley, the Information Advice and Support co-ordinator for the Stroke Association, was the person putting me to the test and I joined her at an awareness day held in Hartlepool earlier this week - all for people taking the wise step of getting themselves checd a stethoscope to measure the results.

Two readings were taken - one with the heart beat and one when the heart relaxes between the beat.

These are known as systolic pressure (the higher reading) and diastolic pressure (the lower reading).

My reading came up as 120 over 70 which, said Susan was “one of the best you can get.”

It was great news and I was I had put myself up for a test as part of the Hartlepool Mail’s commitment to working with the Stroke Association.

It’s a month-long partnership in which the Stroke Association is raising awareness of the devastating condition, while the Mail tells its readers all they need to know about strokes, their causes and what to do if someone has one.ked out.

She said: “We can get between 40 and 50 people at these events.”

Surprisingly, perhaps, older people seem to be more aware of the need for blood pressure tests.

“Many of them even have a machine at home these days. The group which seems to be less aware is the 30 to 40-year-olds,” said Susan.

It seems as if the message - that a stroke could affect people of any age - is still not getting through to every age bracket in Hartlepool.

But then it was my turn.

Susan got me to sit in a chair and fitted the cuff to my left arm. She then use

So I was fine, but what would happen if my tests had not been so good?

● had questions.

● What is blood pressure? It is the measure of the force with which the blood presses on the walls of your arteries as it is pumped round your body. This pumping action is driven by your heart and it should normally beat at between 60 and 90 times a minute when you are at rest.

● What is a normal blood pressure? The optimal pressure is 120 over 80.

● What is high blood pressure? In general terms, people with a systolic blood pressure consistently above 140 and/or a diastolic pressure over 90 need treatment to lower their blood pressure.

● What are the symptoms? It is often a silent condition. The only way of knowing for sure that you have high blood pressure is by having it measured.

● Why is high blood pressure dangerous? It puts a strain on the body’s blood vessels including the vital arteries which serve the brain.

The heart also has to work harder to keep the blood circulation going.

● What are the risk factors - Being overweight, drinking too much alcohol, not getting enough exercise, and an unhealthy diet.

● How is high blood pressure treated? Treatment is likely to include daily use of drugs for all but the mildest forms of high blood pressure. Lifestyle changes and medication can bring levels down.

● What can I do to reduce the risks? Give up smoking, eat healthily, drink sensibly, get regular exercise and reduce your stress levels.

● And who do I contact to find out more? Contact the Stroke Association . Their helpline is available on 0303 3033100, or visit