Friday, June 19, 2009

High Blood Pressure: Do You Know Your Pressure?

Many patients who come to the office have high blood pressure. What is alarming is they find excuses for the cause of their high blood pressure. Examples include:

  • I was running late
  • I walked in from the parking garage
  • I didn’t sit long before my blood pressure was taken
  • I had a disturbing phone call
  • I ate at a restaurant last evening
  • I had a busy day at work
  • I had a hectic schedule
  • I am under more stress than usual today

Sound familiar?

So many people do not believe they have high blood pressure, even when they come to the office and see their blood pressure is elevated. The other side of the coin is when we treat patients with high blood pressure; patient’s often think it is a disease that can be cured and once their blood pressure is controlled they stop their medications or reduce their current dosage of the medication. Yes, if one is overweight and sedentary they can lower blood pressure by weight loss, decreasing sodium in their diet and exercise—but it is a condition to be managed. For the most part however, once one is on a blood pressure lowering medication you are most likely going to need to stay on the medication.

The facts regarding high blood pressure are: 1 in 3 adult Americans has high blood pressure. Data from the Framingham Heart Study suggest persons 55 y.o. and older have a 90% risk of developing high blood pressure during their lifetime. High blood pressure is associated with:

  • 69% of first heart attacks
  • 74% of heart failure cases
  • 77% of first strokes

In order to prevent these events we must monitor our blood pressures at home and discuss options with our health care provider if our blood pressure is consistently greater than 130/80. As health care consumers, we must know our own blood pressure numbers and seek help if our blood pressure is elevated in order to optimize our health.

So…do you know your numbers?

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