Blood pressure is the pressure of blood in your arteries – the vessels that carry blood from your heart to your brain and the rest of your body. If your blood pressure is too high (also called hypertension), it causes a strain on the walls of your arteries and on your heart. Having high blood pressure greatly increases your risk of having a heart attack or stroke, and can make diabetes or kidney disease worse.
A new study in the US suggests that people living with HIV are more likely to have high blood pressure. Men, older people, black people and individuals with a poor response to HIV treatment were more likely to have high blood pressure.
Medicines may be prescribed to help control blood pressure. These include diuretics, beta-blockers and ACE inhibitors. But in the American study, only half of those with high blood pressure were having it effectively controlled with treatment. One in seven were undiagnosed and untreated. The researchers think that doctors are missing opportunities to diagnose and treat high blood pressure, especially in younger people and those with poor access to healthcare in the US.
The situation in the UK may be similar; blood pressure should be checked routinely at your HIV clinic, and where necessary, treatment should be provided by your GP.
You can read about the study here.
For more information about high blood pressure, read NAM’s factsheet ‘High blood pressure’.