Do I Really Have High Blood Pressure?
High blood pressure has no symptoms: you don’t know if you have it. You must be tested to find out. It is often called the “silent killer” because it can lead to heart disease, strokes, kidney damage and other serious complications. Fortunately, it is quite easily detected. Nowadays home blood pressure devices are available inexpensively that are very accurate.
Everyone should have their blood pressure tested, because of the risks associated with high blood pressure and because the condition is so common. About one-third of all American adults have it. Many don’t know that they do.
What is the Best Way to Know if I have High Blood Pressure?
While it is important to have your blood pressure tested when you visit the doctor or dentist, in some cases that isn’t enough. Many people have elevated measurements when they visit the doctor. This is known as “White Coat Hypertension.” It happens when the stress of knowing that one’s blood pressure is going to be measured causes a short-term spike in pressure. But these people can have significantly lower pressure at home.
Studies have varied in assessing whether these short-lived elevations should be treated or not. But they certainly are not as threatening as blood pressure that is elevated all the time. In order to learn if the high reading recorded by the doctor is something constant, it is a good idea to periodically record blood pressure at home, at various times of the day. Consumer Reports recommends the Omron 10 series of monitors. Keep a record of the readings and show it to your doctor.
What can I do if I have High Blood Pressure?
Most importantly, if you have high blood pressure, take your prescribed medication as directed. Remember: there are no symptoms of elevated pressure. In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends:
· Check your blood pressure regularly
· Eat a healthy diet
· Maintain a normal weight
· Keep active
· Limit alcohol consumption
· Don’t smoke
· Prevent or treat diabetes.
Yours for better health,
Jon Mills, DC