High blood pressure (hypertension) is so prevalent and such a consequence of our society (as will be discussed the rest of this week) that you must have an understanding of some basic principles if you care at all about your health. I’ve organized these questions for you in a logical progression. Feel free to offer your own questions or comments.
1. How do I know if I have high blood pressure? By the numbers, consider this table:
Blood Pressure Levels
|Normal||Systolic: < 120 mmHgDiastolic: < 80 mmHg|
|At risk (pre-hypertension)||Systolic: 120–139 mmHg
Diastolic: 80–89 mmHg
|High||Systolic: 140 mmHg or higherDiastolic: 90 mmHg or higher|
Therefore, the first thing is to get checked by your physician if you don’t already have a diagnosis of hypertension and are anywhere at or above the pre-hypertension stage.
2. But when should I get go to the emergency room for high blood pressure? The presence of the types of symptoms I’ve been discussing here and throughout Straight, No Chaser is a prompt to come to the emergency room regardless of the level of the blood pressure. Also, regardless of the presence or absence of symptoms, I’ll always want to see you if your bottom number (diastolic blood pressure) is at or above 110-115, regardless as to whether or not you appropriately take your medication.
3. If I do have high blood pressure, will I be placed on medication? I really hope not, but honestly, approximately two-thirds of individuals in the U.S. who have high blood pressure are poorly controlled – even on medication. This means medication will be necessary for most. That said, theoretically, medication should be viewed as necessary only when necessary and only when other measures don’t work. You should discuss this with your individual physician, and make every effort to improve your diet and exercise regimens. If and when you’re placed on medication, the choice of medication will be based on your age, sex, ethnicity, mobility, existing health profile and other considerations.
4. You mentioned I could have a heart attack or stroke from this? How would I know if that’s happening? Check here for Heart Attack Recognition and here for Stroke Recognition, where I discuss signs and symptoms. Remember, time is tissue, meaning you must not delay if you develop these symptoms.
5. What else can I do? Be healthy! Don’t smoke, limit alcohol intake and lower your stress level. It’s only a broken record if you’ve received the message and have implemented the recommendations.
Speaking of broken records, see you tomorrow…
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