know your numbers- the truth about high blood pressure

Know your numbers- High blood pressure

High blood Pressure

We all hear a lot about high blood pressure but it can be hard to understand exactly what high blood pressure actually means. When you measure blood pressure you measure the amount of pressure against the walls of your blood vessels. Our bodies pump blood around to these vessels and organs in order to spread oxygen rich blood to where it is needed.

You may not even realise that your blood pressure is higher than normal so it is important to ask your doctor or pharmacist to measure your blood pressure. The Irish Heart foundation estimates that over half of over 45s in Ireland have high blood pressure. High blood pressure is a risk factor for a heart attack or a stroke. If you have high blood pressure you are more likely to suffer from poor circulation, kidney failure or heart failure.

So what is a normal blood pressure reading? Normal blood pressure is usually referred to as 120/80. The top number is called the systolic reading and it records the pressure as the heart contracts. The bottom number is called the diastolic reading and it records the pressure as the heart relaxes. High blood pressure is any reading over 140/90 (or for diabetics over 140/80). However sometimes you may experience white coat high blood pressure so it is more accurate to get a few readings or to wear a 24 hour monitor.

People often ask us in the pharmacy “what causes high blood pressure?”. There can be different reasons for high blood pressure such as lifestyle choices but high blood pressure can often run in families. Some people get diagnosed with high blood pressure because they have symptoms such as headaches or issues with their vision but most people will never know they have high blood pressure until they get it measured. We don’t charge anything in our pharmacy to get your blood pressure measured so it is well worth taking a few minutes to get a blood pressure recording done and then we can advise you on the next steps to take.

There are some lifestyle changes that may help reduce your blood pressure:

  1. Lose weight- Being overweight is a risk factor for high blood pressure. Even losing 10% of your body weight can result in a decrease in your blood pressure reading.
  2. Increase your intake of fruit and vegetables and reduce the level of salt and processed food in your diet. It is important to know how much salt is in the foods that you buy. The irish Heart Association have a handy shopping card that helps translate food labels so you can understand the level of salt in the food. This can be accessed from the Irish Heart foundation website.
  3. Restrict your alcohol consumption to below the upper limits. This means less than 17 standard drinks for a man and no more than 11 standard drinks for a woman. You shouldn’t drink your entire weekly allowance on one evening and you should have some days completely alcohol free. Drinking a lot of alcohol can increase your blood pressure and can damage your heart and liver.
  4. Try do 30 minutes exercise at least 5 days per week. If you can increase your exercise time to 60minutes can be even more beneficial.
  5. Finally ask what your blood pressure reading is? The more aware you are the more likely you are to keep your blood pressure under control.

There are other cardiovascular risk factors that you should keep under control if you have high blood pressure. These include; smoking, high cholesterol and diabetes.

Please feel free to call into the pharmacy for advice if you are worried about your cardiovascular risk or that of a loved one. Knowledge is your power so learn your numbers today.


Health spring clean

Improving our health as we go from winter into spring

Health and wellness as we go from winter into spring

Sorting out our diet, exercise and skin

We all tend to hibernate during winter time but now it’s time to shake off the cobwebs. Hopefully you survived the January cold and flu season unscathed. Or if you did end up suffering a dose then I hope you are feeling better. Now that we are in February it is time to start building up our immune system in preparation for spring and summer. It is also a great time of year to look at getting some exercise into our weekly routines and looking after our skin after it has been battered by winter weather extremes.


I’ll start with our immune system which is key to good health. Over winter time we may have switched to bad eating habits and we may be lacking in essential vitamins and minerals. It is great time of year to get the diet back on track. There are so many resources available to us with healthy recipes. A really great resource is Operation Transformations recipe section on their website ( or in Supervalu stores. Just because you didn’t get on the eating healthy buzz in January it isn’t too late to start now. If you were sick over the winter there is a good chance your immune system is still fighting back. There are loads of excellent supplements available today for your specific needs. Some of our best sellers are as follows;

Oxylent– This supplement comes in a powder form that you can make into a delicious drink. As well as the fact it is jam packed with multivitamins it also contains electrolytes.

Multivitamin, health

Seven Seas Perfect 7– This supplement has individually tailored supplements for men and for women. There also is an over 50 version of each supplement available.

Perfect7, health

Centrum Men and Women– This is another great multivitamin that contains a different version for men and for women. It also has an over 50 option available.

Centrum, health

Pharmaton Active Life– This multivitamin contains Ginseng which gives an extra energy boost to those who feel they need it.

pharmaton active life. health

All of these multivitamins have different quantities of the essential vitamins and minerals that we need for a healthy life. However nothing beats up your fruit and vegetable intake. Call into the pharmacy for advice on which one is best for your needs. It is also important to get a sufficient intake of vitamin D as we make Vitamin D from sunlight, which we here in Ireland don’t get enough of, especially during winter.


Secondly let’s look at the whole subject of exercise. Exercise is fundamental to our health. We all find exercising difficult during the dark winter months so this is a great time to start putting exercise to the top of our priority list. There are small measures that can make a huge difference such as taking the stairs at work or waking to the shop for a pint of milk instead of driving. However the WHO recommends that we do at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week, which works out at 30minutes five days per week. So phone a friend and have a catch up over a brisk walk. It’s more fun if you have company and makes it easier to include in your weekly routine.


The third aspect of our health that may need attention after winter is our skin. The magic ingredient that does more for our skin than any other is…..water. During the cold months we tend to not be as vigilant in keeping ourselves hydrated so if you make one change in February then it should be aim to drink more water. We should aim for at least 2 litres of water a day. You will see the difference in your skin immediately. The other thing we can do in winter is to use good moisturisers. High street brands have got some excellent choices for dry damaged skin. You can make a massive difference to you skin by ensuring you apply a moisturiser every morning and evening. You can also treat yourself to a facemask every week such as the Garnier Moisture Bomb sheet mask or other similar sheet mask. These are extremely handy because they take the hassle out of applying a facemask.

garnier moisture bomb mask

Vichy has an incredible range of serums and moisturisers that contain hyaluronic acid which can really improve the texture of dehydrated skin. La Roche Posay has great solutions for extremely dry or intolerant skin such as their Toleriane and Hydraphase range. Call into the pharmacy for a great range of skincare, or send your other half in for a Valentines present.


So leave winter behind, make three resolutions for February to get ready for spring;

  1. Eat well and make sure you are getting your immune system back on track.
  2. Get out and get moving, include exercise in your daily routine.
  3. Look after your skin and drink more water.

If you need healthcare advice, to get your health back on track, call into your pharmacy today. Read more

sore throats

Sore throats in children

It is cold out there and it seems like every second person has some sort of dose and that includes children. We have a lot of people coming to the pharmacy with sore throats. Children tend to get more sore throats than adults. Many children with a viral infection will complain of a sore throat and will in fact have 2-3 sore throats every year.In fact on average most children will get 6-7 viral infections every year. Viral infections are usually self-limiting and will resolve themselves within 5-7 days.  While it can be distressing for the child, 9 out of 10 children will have fully recovered within a week without having to see a doctor.  If the sore throat lasts longer than a week then you should bring your child to their GP as it may mean they have a bacterial infection such as strep throat and may need antibiotics. In the meantime it is advisable to keep your child well hydrated and there are over the counter solutions if the sore throat is painful.

Over the counter painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen can relieve pain associated with a sore throat. Always check with your pharmacist or GP before using ibuprofen if your child is asthmatic. Older children can also be given lozenges or a throat spray. Avoid giving your child hot drinks or hot food as this can further irritate the throat. You may find giving them ice pops to suck or ice-cream may give them some relief. While it is best to avoid very hot drinks you could make up a warm drink with honey and lemon that can lubricate the throat. If you are worried about your child bring them into your pharmacy and a pharmacist can check you are doing the right things and advice you when it is best to book an appointment with your GP.