Keeping your blood pressure stable is key to having good cardiovascular health. That’s why throughout the month of May, Hypertension Canada is raising awareness about what it means to have high blood pressure, the negative impact that it can have on your health, and what you can do to better manage it.
What is Hypertension?
For those unfamiliar with what hypertension is, it’s the medical term used to describe high blood pressure, and blood pressure is the force in which the blood gets pumped from the heart and against the blood vessels, which makes the flow of blood possible and also delivers oxygen and key nutrients to different tissues and organs throughout or bodies. However, when there’s too much of that pressure within your blood vessels, this is when hypertension occurs. Think of it as being similar to filling a balloon or tires with too much air.
What Causes Hypertension?
There are a number of reasons why one might develop high blood pressure – some of which are beyond your control, such as age and genetics. However, many of common causes of hypertension can actually be controlled. These include lifestyle factors such as unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, obesity, stress, smoking, and excessive alcohol consumption. Certain health conditions, if not managed properly, can also cause high blood pressure. These include sleep apnea, diabetes, and kidney disease.
Symptoms and Risks of High Blood Pressure
If you have high blood pressure, you may notice the following symptoms: Headache, fatigue, confusion, chest pain, irregular heartbeat, difficulty breathing, a pounding sensation in the chest, neck and/or ears, and even blood in the urine. As mentioned, if you have high blood pressure, your cardiovascular health could be in danger. You not only increase your risk of suffering a stroke, heart attack, or even heart failure, but may also develop eye problems, renal disease and erectile dysfunction (in men.)
How Do I Prevent High Blood Pressure and Avoid These Risks?
In order to prevent hypertension and avoid the risks that are associated with high blood pressure, Dr. Ali Ghahary recommends visiting your family physician for regular exams each year. He or she will do a thorough examination which includes checking your blood pressure to make sure it’s at a stable level. If you are someone who is at risk of developing high blood pressure due to lifestyle habits, it’s never a bad idea to see your physician more frequently so that your blood pressure is checked regularly. If you’re unable to book more frequent appointments with your family physician, a physician at a walk-in clinic will also be able to check your blood pressure for you. In fact, Dr. Ghahary is available to see patients at Burnaby’s Brentwood Medical Clinic on a walk-in basis every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. You can find his walk-in schedule by visiting the clinic website at brentwoodwalk-inclinic.com.
Alternatively, you can also just as easily check your blood pressure at almost any pharmacy, or you can even check your own blood pressure at home by purchasing a blood pressure monitor, which can be fairly inexpensive. You can find a list of blood pressure monitors, as recommended by Hypertension Canada, by clicking here. It’s also worth noting that if you are going to check your own blood pressure, you do the following:
• Don’t smoke or drink caffeinated beverages at least 30 minutes before checking your blood pressure.
• Rest for approximately 5 minutes prior to checking your blood pressure.
• When checking your blood pressure, make sure your feet are on the floor and your arm is at level with your heart.
• Avoid speaking during your blood pressure test.
Following these steps will ensure that your blood pressure reading is as accurate as possible. You can keep track of your blood pressure readings by using this log.
Treating High Blood Pressure
If it is confirmed that you have high blood pressure, you may require medication to help stabilize it. Medications commonly used to treat high blood pressure include diuretics, beta-blockers, ACE inhibitors, ARBs, CCBs, and direct renin inhibitors. It may take several weeks before you notice any changes with your blood pressure levels, and remember, everyone reacts differently to medication, so you should always discuss any concerns you have your side effects experienced with your physician or pharmacist.