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Is my blood pressure too high?

Susan Blatt, MD
Posted 7/26/20

Have you been spending a lot of time at home? If so, have you been worrying a lot? Your health is always a concern, but it is an important time to see about your blood pressure. You can buy a blood …

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Is my blood pressure too high?

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Have you been spending a lot of time at home? If so, have you been worrying a lot? Your health is always a concern, but it is an important time to see about your blood pressure.

You can buy a blood pressure cuff in the pharmacy that is easy to use when you are home. Check the two numbers several times and write down the readings and the date. Take your blood pressure when you are calm and do it several times over half an hour. The values should be 120/70 or lower. If either number is consistently higher, you should check with your doctor.

The numbers represent the amount of pressure against the inner walls of the arteries. If the pressure is high, that can cause many problems. Normal blood pressure is 120/70. 70 is the pressure in the arteries when your heart is resting and 120 is when it is pumping (or when it beats.) 

If you have high blood pressure (hypertension) and this is a new problem, the doctor will recheck the pressure several times, to make sure your machine is accurate. The doctor will talk about your family history of blood pressure problems. There are several types of medication that will bring blood pressure into the normal range.

Even if the treatment works now, it may not be effective as you grow older. If you are already on medicine for blood pressure, it may need to be stronger or another medication may need to be added.

If you have any problems due to the medicine, call the doctor. There are several drugs that are equally effective. If you are paying for the medication, make sure it is inexpensive. The doctor may be able to change to a cheaper medicine.

High blood pressure is related to heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease. It is a bad combination to those who are diabetic and have high blood sugar. Still it does not cause any symptoms by itself, so it is referred to as silent. Because hypertension is silent, an elevation is easy for people to ignore. Ignoring it is a big mistake. 

Many people have heard of “white coat hypertension.” This suggests that in some cases, blood pressure readings are higher at the doctor, than at home. You can use your own cuff or get several blood pressure checks at your pharmacist. Most likely if you have high levels, it goes up and down often. If you have high blood pressure a lot of the time, it should be treated. Talk to your doctor. Do not use “white coat hypertension” as an excuse to avoid taking medication. 

In many cases, high blood pressure is the first indication of ill health. People may spend several years denying to themselves that they have high blood pressure. You must listen to your doctor, because hypertension has many bad effects, if it goes untreated.

Part of the treatment for hypertension is to lose weight if you are overweight. Diet should be low in salt and exercise is important. Aim for walking a mile a day and continue with that program throughout your life.

High blood pressure may eventually cause a stroke. High pressure in the arteries may cause bleeding in the brain. It is not quite as simple as that, but no one would risk having a stroke if they could avoid it. 

So, take this opportunity, regarding your high blood pressure, to look into treatment. You can be doing yourself and your family members a serious favor.

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