It’s pretty common knowledge that high blood pressure, also known as essential hypertension, is not a good thing. It’s important to be aware of your blood pressure measurements. Generally, resting blood pressures measuring over 140 on the top number and over 88 on the bottom number may indicate concern for long term health problems if left unchecked. Today in the United States there are many ways to have your blood pressure measured. Home blood pressure monitors are affordable and work well.
Around 30 percent of Americans (essentially 90% of persons sometime before dying of “old age”) are categorized as hypertensive. Approximately 600,000 people die each year related to this common condition. High blood pressure is known as the “silent killer” as high blood pressure often has no associated symptoms. Persistently high blood pressure over time damages three primary organs- kidneys, heart/cardiovascular system and the brain (stroke). High blood pressure is the most associated disease associated with end stage kidney failure requiring dialysis or transplant.
A more complete/thorough list of hypertension related health problems include: stroke (acute brain bleed), heart attack, heart failure, artery aneurysms (dilated sacs in the artery that can spontaneously rupture), coronary artery disease, enlarged left heart, cognitive impairment including dementia, kidney scarring/failure and eye disease.
While a concerning problem, hypertension is rarely an emergency. There is no one measurement that requires emergency evaluation unless there are active and significant symptoms such as: active chest pain, sudden neurologic changes in alertness or function or a sudden change in breathing/breathlessness at rest.
An ideal average blood pressure should be under 120/80 mmHg (millimeters of mercury). If a doctor sees this number or higher, lifestyles changes will be suggested and medication may be necessary to control blood pressure. It is commonly understood that a doctor’s office is not the best environment for determining the condition of essential hypertension (hypertension).
True hypertension is one of sustained, documented above normal measurements in a natural setting. An emergency room or a rushed medical office is not the ideal environment for determining a life changing diagnosis. To truly diagnose if a person has high blood pressure, one will wish to take separate readings on different days and over a period of weeks to months.
Dr.Kordonowy always requests someone with possible high blood pressure to monitor their blood pressure at home using an automated arm blood pressure unit. Office testing can screen for signs of end organ effects (labs to look at kidney function, ECG to look for heart muscle stress, urine testing for protein excretion or microscopic blood in the urine). If end organ effects or damage is noted it is appropriate to initiate medication immediately.
As noted earlier blood pressure readings above 140/90 mmHg at rest are considered abnormal. At higher pressures a person’s blood is pushing forcefully within the arteries and organs as it makes its way through the body. If you’re diagnosed with blood pressure, your lifestyle and habits will have to change to get your levels under control. Identifying and managing this can assure you a healthy life with a reduced risk of the above-mentioned diseases and illnesses.
Here is how your life may change with a hypertension diagnosis.
- You may be asked you to take medication(s) to reduce the pressure of blood up against the artery walls.
- You will be asked to exercise regularly, lose excess weight (if overweight), reduce sodium intake, and quit smoking.
- You will mostly likely be asked to monitor your blood pressure at home with a cuff to see if the medication and/or lifestyle changes are managing your blood pressure levels.
- You may see the doctor more often to check up and monitor if your blood pressure is in a normal range.
If you’re over the age of 45, have a family history of hypertension, are overweight, lack exercise, smoke, have an unhealthy diet, stress often and/or drink a lot of alcohol, you may be at a higher risk of developing high blood pressure. If you’re at risk, it may be time to get your blood levels checked by a doctor. Early preventative care can save your life. Book a consult with Dr. Kordonowy of Internal Medicine, Lipid & Wellness of Fort Myers by clicking here or calling 239-362-3005, ext. 200.
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