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Pocketmags Digital Magazines
Pocketmags Digital Magazines

Could a banana a day PROTECT your HEART?

The figures at which our blood pressure is considered a health risk may soon be lowered, while a new study says it’s OK to double our daily salt intake. Then there’s the report that a daily banana will see you right. Confused? Jo Waters talks to the experts to get to the heart of the matter


THE WORLD ACCORDING TO BLOOD PRESSURE is being turned upside down if we’re to believe new studies published recently in the press. While some of them are based on robust evidence, other less-convincing reports have muddied the waters, leaving us confused – and even hopeful that we can double the salt in our food with no ill effects for our health. Before we get to the nitty-gritty of the new studies, there’s one important question to ask yourself: do you know your own blood pressure stats? Many people don’t. We know our height and weight measurements; understand that a poor waist-to-height ratio is bad for our health (ideally our waist should be half our height or less); but most of us don’t bother to get our blood pressure checked, as there are no obvious symptoms. So we won’t necessarily know if we have high blood pressure (hypertension).

Yet an estimated 16 million people in the UK do have high blood pressure – so that’s one in four of the adult population who are putting their health at risk of suffering a stroke or heart attack. Checking your reading regularly is really the only way of knowing, says Graham MacGregor, professor of cardiovascular medicine at the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine in London and chair of Blood Pressure UK. ‘If blood pressure is too high, the pressure of the blood pushing against the sides of blood vessels puts extra strain on your arteries and heart,’ he explains.

Why the ‘at-risk’ figures could be changing

IN THE UK, hypertension requires medication when it hits 140/90mmHg (see How to understand your reading, opposite). Yet in the US, this threshold has recently been lowered to 130/80, with normal blood pressure deemed to be less than 120/80. The evidence for this change came from a US Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial published in 2015, which showed by lowering systolic blood pressure from 140mm to 120mm, the risk of stroke and heart attack was reduced by a quarter.

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About Healthy Food Guide

Our October issue has everything you need for a good night’s sleep to improve your health and wellbeing. Our nutritionist pinpoints the best foods for zzzz, and sleep experts help you get your mind and body in the right place. Plus there’s a £1,000 bed set to be won! Cooking on a budget? We’ve got easy recipes for students (and emotional advice for parents left behind) and new cheap & cheerful – and healthy – meals from Jamie Oliver. It’s your number one spot for latest health advice, too, with an update on blood pressure.