Have you been told you have high blood pressure? If so, you are not alone. Hypertension affects 1/3 of Americans. High blood pressure is considered a “modifiable risk factor” for cardiovascular disease, stroke kidney failure and death. Modifiable means that we can CHANGE it. Unlike gender and age that are NOT modifiable.
Treatment of high blood pressure decreased all-cause mortality. This means it is worth your while to be aware of your blood pressure and to bring it down if it’s high.
Are there symptoms of high blood pressure? There can be. But, you may feel fine and it is high enough to require medication. If you have symptoms you may feel
- short of breath,
- heart palpitations,
- bloody nose or
What should you tell your doctor if your blood pressure is high?
- Tell them if you were prescribed medication for high blood pressure in the past AND if you take it as prescribed. (Up to 65% of patients on antihypertensive medication do not take it as prescribed).
- Any new medications (they may alter blood pressure or interact with your blood pressure medications?
- Any other drugs like cocaine (we are not the cops nor your mother, please tell us what you take)?
- Any history of heart problems or kidney disease or diabetes or sleep apnea?
How should you take your blood pressure?
- Get an appropriately-sized automated electric arm cuff.
- Sit in a chair with legs uncrossed for five minutes before the measurement.
- The arm in the BP cuff should be resting comfortably on a table at the same height as your heart.
- Take your blood pressure at home or at the pharmacy and write these down. Many patients ONLY have high blood pressure at the doctor’s office. This is called “white coat hypertension” even if we are not wearing a white coat.
Most important advice: Take your medication as prescribed. Follow up with your physician as she asks. High blood pressure is a MODIFIABLE risk-factor, take care of it.