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My Doctor Says I Have High Blood Pressure

Aug 18, 2007
I couldn't resist the title. There are 4 groups of people I can think of. Those who don't have high blood pressure but think they do, those who do have high blood pressure but think they don't, those who don't know and don't care, and those who do know, and do care.

The first group of people are always worried. They get a headache, feel a little dizzy , feel some heart palpitations and are sure they have high blood pressure or going to have a stroke or a heart attack. The reality is, often, those with hypertension rarely have any symptoms unless complications have set in. Unfortunately, even people with very high blood pressure can feel quite well. Of course, the test itself is very easy, so it is probably better to get the blood pressure checked anyway. Better safe than sorry.

The second group are those who really do have hypertension. These are those who say "My doctor says I have high blood pressure." Usually it is followed by "But I don't feel anything." As I said before, it is rare to have symptoms till complications set it. If you are above 40, or have a strong family history of hypertension, it is important to get your blood pressure checked regularly. You can see your doctor or nurse, or even buy a blood pressure monitor for yourself. Hypertension must be controlled in order to prevent complications.

For the group that don't know and don't care, I have nothing more to say. The rest of the article is for the last group.

So what is hypertension? Many people misuse the word. When they get angry with their children, they say "You are giving high blood pressure!" While it is true that exercise, or getting emotional can raise the blood pressure temporarily, it is not called hypertension. A sustained raised pressure higher than normal is hypertension. Your doctor will usually like to document a raised blood pressure over 2-3 different times before making a diagnosis.

There are two types of blood pressure - the systolic and the diastolic. The systolic BP is when the heart pumps blood, and the diastolic BP is when the heart relaxes. The current definition of hypertension is still a BP greater than 140 mmHg systolic, and 90 mmHg diastolic though some places are starting to lower the figure. Your doctor will record it as 140/90 mmHg. Normal is accepted as 120/80 mmHg.

What causes hypertension then? In most cases, there is no identifiable cause. Doctors call it essential hypertension. In other cases, kidney disease or other rare conditions can raise the blood pressure. This is particularly if the patient is very young.

So what are the risks of having it? Unfortunately, a higher blood pressure puts you at higher risk of getting strokes and heart attacks. The risk increases as the blood pressure increases. In time, the higher pressure can cause the heart and kidneys to wear out, leading to heart failure and kidney failure. Keeping the blood pressure within normal limits can reduce these risks.

So what can be done? There are natural non-medical ways of reducing blood pressure. Eat a low-fat, low salt nutritious diet. Avoid being obese. Aim to maintain an ideal weight. Cut down on excessive amounts of alcohol. Avoid stress and overwork. Consider going for relaxation or meditation classes. Exercise regularly. And quit smoking ! It doesn't raise the blood pressure but it definitely does not help the heart.

If the natural measures do not help, the doctor may need to prescribe medication, called antihypertensive treatment. There are many different classes of drugs used to treat hypertension. The latest new drug may not necessarily be the best one for you. The choice of drug is affected by any other medical conditions, allergies, lifestyle, cost etc. Your doctor will be able to help you make the best choice. Sometimes, in serious cases, a combination of drugs may need to be used.

Take your medication regularly. Don't skip days. And don't stop the medication unless advised by your doctor.

So how often should you check it? If you are well and above 40, you may want to get it checked every 2-3 years. Women on the pill need to have it checked often. And if you are on medication, follow your doctor's advice. Even if you don't feel ill. By the time you do feel the effects of high blood pressure, it would be too late.
About the Author
Karen Cheong is the author of Lose Fat, Gain Life ! Obesity and its related diseases reduce the quality of one's life and shortens one's lifespan too. Take action today.

For your free BMI calculator and free receipes for healthy living , visit http://www.lose-fat-today.blogspot.com
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