The importance of dealing with Hypertension cannot be overemphasised.
Generally, we can't 'feel' elevated blood pressure (hypertension) - though some people do have headaches or feel 'somehow different' when their blood pressure is elevated.
Many times, the diagnosis is incidental - that is, we were busy looking into another medical problem and discovered hypertension; or it was found on a routine check.
Regardless of how it was detected, it should be taken seriously for the condition to be treated effectively.
Here's a brief illustration:
The day after #Worldhypertensionday, a young man in his local clinic - aged in his early 40's - of Caribbean background who had been admitted weeks before for a severe headache.
On his admission to the hospital, his BP was 210/135 mmhg.
This was very high and as such he spent a couple of days in hospital having some blood tests done and receiving treatment to reduce the Blood Pressure.
A normal blood pressure is considered to be any figure between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg.
On discharge from the main hospital, he was asked to book in an appointment with his local (community) doctor for follow up. He appeared to us 2 weeks after.
He had not taken his medications for over a week as he had run out of the tablets.
When asked to share his experience about his admission and why he had not sought for more of his drugs; he declared he wasn't really hypertensive and it was all down to stress.
When we sought for reasons he had for not engaging with his condition and treatment it became apparent:
- he didn't appreciate why he had to continue taking the drugs;
- he had a lot to do as the main breadwinner in his family and
- a recent bereavement was causing some additional emotional upset.
These genuine (in his mind) issues conflicted with what we perceived as a serious physical problem that he felt the doctors were exaggerating - especially as he felt well.
So we spent some time chatting about hypertension, his treatment and going forward.
Generally, it is agreed that sometimes stress (likely from its impact on rest and sleep) could be associated with high blood pressure.
But regardless of cause, it is important that once identified, it is managed appropriately.
The following 4 tips can help or remind you what things are important in taking charge of your health care in respect to controlling Hypertension.
1. Accept the diagnosis.
Hypertension is one of those conditions that willful ignorance has a bad effect on.
If you don’t believe the first clinician who gives a diagnosis, get a second opinion; or a third. But don’t waste time doing so.
And don’t ignore it.
This is because while the BP is high and untreated, damage is slowly and progressively happening to your eyes, kidneys heart and other organs.
Initially there may be no symptoms, but untreated, the disease continues, causing severe effects that may take years to show.
2. Learn about your medicines.
Identify what tablets you are taking and just have a rough idea why you are taking them.
Some people may need one tablet and others 2 or 3 more different ones to control the BP.
You don’t need a complex explanation unless you want one - but when you are clear on why you are taking the tablets and what happens if you don’t have them hopefully, you’ll more likely stick to them.
Also medicine side effects are a significant issue.
One of the many reasons we stop a medicine is if it tastes nasty or does something else unpleasant.
This may happen with your antihypertensive drugs - many medications do have undesirable side effects which may vary from one person to another.
Don’t just stop taking them - speak to your doctor or pharmacist about a replacement.
3. Regular follow up.
This is so important : it confirms the medicines are doing their job controlling the BP; and if they are not, they can be changed to alternatives.
It also allows for regular checks on your system - by examination or arranging blood tests, electrocardiogram, X-ray etc when indicated for assessing the health of the body's organs.
Recommended Monitoring BP protocol
- In the first few months after diagnosis, monthly review till the BP is stable and side effect issues are settled is appropriate;
- 2 -3 monthly thereafter depending on whether other conditions are present;
- followed by 6-monthly reviews and
- yearly reviews once you and your doctor are satisfied with control.
Some people don’t like medication and it is true sometimes BP settles with change in diet, stopping alcohol and smoking, weight loss etc.
Whether or not you need medication , a healthier lifestyle will help keep your BP controlled.
We recommend you subscribe to a wellness blog (like ours) to receive tips on staying healthy.
Doing all of these helps keep you in control and increases your chance of staying out of the hospital with complications from poor BP control.
We hope this information helps people stay well with controlled hypertension and live longer lives!
Let us know if we can answer any specific issues about managing your BP.
Editing by AskAwayHealth Team
All AskAwayHealth articles are written by practising Medical Practitioners on a wide range of health care conditions to provide evidence-based guidance and to help promote quality health care. The advice in our material is not meant to replace the management of your specific condition by a qualified health care practitioner.
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