Blood Pressure Awareness

Blood Pressure Awareness

Protect & Correct: Blood Pressure Awareness – James Smith, Pharmacist – The Phoenix Stores

Behind the island’s natural beauty lies a growing concern among healthcare professionals regarding high blood pressure rates in the local population. As pharmacists and healthcare professionals working in the community, it’s essential to bring awareness to the importance of reasonable blood pressure control and the lifestyle factors that can help achieve it.


High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a condition where the force of blood against the walls of the arteries is consistently high. This condition can lead to serious health problems like heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease. The Institute for Health and Metrics Evaluation (IHME) showed that Ischaemic heart disease was the highest cause of mortality in Bermuda in 2019, and high blood pressure is the most significant contributable factor for developing this condition, suffered by 1 in 3 adults in Bermuda. Unfortunately, high blood pressure is a silent killer, and many people may not even know they have it until it causes serious health problems such as chest pain, shortness of breath or collapse occur; luckily, one can take multiple lifestyle measures to reduce this risk.

Salt & Cholesterol

From a scientific perspective, salt intake is the consistent link to high blood pressure. In contrast, high cholesterol levels can lead to plaque buildup in the arteries, increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease. The recommended daily amount of salt is around 2.5mg, roughly equivalent to one tablespoon. Individuals can start by reading food labels and choosing low-sodium options to reduce salt intake. Preparing meals at home using fresh herbs and spices instead of salt can also be helpful. Gradually reducing salt intake over time can allow the taste buds to adjust to lower salt levels, so limiting the number of unhealthy fast-food choices in our diet can significantly impact salt consumption, as takeaway foods often contain a very high salt content.

To reduce cholesterol intake, individuals can choose lean protein sources, such as skinless poultry and fish, and avoid foods high in saturated and trans fats, such as fried foods and baked goods. Fortunately, fantastic fish options are abundant in Bermuda. Incorporating plant-based foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, can also be beneficial in reducing cholesterol levels.


Exercise helps to improve the elasticity of blood vessels, reducing the pressure on arterial walls and decreasing blood pressure. Physical activity can also help reduce body weight, which is another risk factor for high blood pressure.

Engaging in moderate-intensity exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, most days of the week can help to lower blood pressure. Cost-effective ways to engage in physical activity include walking or jogging on the historic railway trail, cycling on the picturesque roads and swimming in the sea from multiple access points across the island.

Smoking Cessation & Alcohol Reduction

Smoking increases blood pressure and heart rate while also damaging blood vessel walls. Quitting smoking can lead to a significant reduction in blood pressure, and the number of cigarettes smoked per day, calculated over a lifetime, is often used to measure future cardiovascular disease in most diagnostic decision-making for prescribing antihypertensive medications. Fortunately, multiple nicotine replacement therapies are available, including lozenges, sprays and patches, from pharmacies across the island for those looking to reduce and quit smoking.

Additionally, alcohol consumption can raise blood pressure, especially when consumed in excess. Reducing alcohol intake, or abstaining from alcohol altogether, can lead to a reduction in blood pressure. The American Heart Association recommends limiting alcohol intake to one drink per day for women; two for men.


As pharmacists, we urge everyone to take regular blood pressure checks and seek medical attention if their readings are consistently high. Several over-the-counter blood pressure monitors are available at pharmacies for use at no cost and a wide range of blood pressure monitors for home monitoring. Below is a table of internationally recognised blood pressure readings highlighting distinct categories of hypertension. A consistent blood pressure reading in the elevated category will only require lifestyle modifications, but those with stage one hypertension should consult their doctor about whether medication options are appropriate. Stage two hypertension requires medication, and those with readings of 180/120 should seek urgent medical attention. Thankfully, most can tolerate blood pressure medications, and there are decades of knowledge that healthcare professionals can utilise to help you find the proper blood pressure medication.