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High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)

Living With High Blood Pressure

Last updated on:
10/04/2012

Contributing Author: Guy Slowik FRCS

It is estimated that more than 50 million Americans have high blood pressure, and most of them are unaware that they have it. Almost 75 percent of people with high blood pressure do not control their blood pressure to below the "danger zone" of 140/90 mm Hg.

But if your doctor tells you your blood pressure is high, remember that you can control it and live a normal life. In many people, high blood pressure can be eliminated with simple changes in lifestyle and diet. These changes can improve your blood pressure and enhance your overall health.

Once recognized, high blood pressure can be effectively controlled with appropriate measures. In partnership with your doctor, you can control your blood pressure. There are specific things each of you should do to help you to achieve your target blood pressure:

What you should do:

  • Have your blood pressure checked regularly.
  • Ask any questions you have about your blood pressure and treatment (try making a list before you next see your doctor).
  • Keep all appointments and have your pressure measured as often as the doctor suggests.
  • Follow your doctor's advice about changes in diet and lifestyle that can help to control your blood pressure.
  • Be sure to tell your doctor about all medications (prescriptions, over-the-counter drugs, herbal remedies) you are currently taking. This information is important as it may influence the type and dose of medication your doctor prescribes.
  • If the doctor prescribes medications, take them every day, on time,even if you feel fine. Never adjust or discontinue your medication without consulting a doctor, even if your blood pressure seems to be getting lower.
  • Ask you doctor about potential side effects and which, if any, may require prompt immediate medical attention.
  • Make a note of any side effects associated with your medications and report them to your doctor.
  • Keep in touch with your doctor

What your doctor should do:

  • Tell you the systolic and diastolic blood pressure readings and explain what they mean.
  • Answer your questions and explain what is going on in simple, understandable terms.
  • Tell you how often you should have your blood pressure rechecked.
  • Tell you about lifestyle and dietary changes that you should try, and refer you to a nutritionist or other expert if you'd like more help.
  • Ask you questions about your medical history and use of medications (prescribed and over-the-counter) or herbal remedies to determine what type of medication, if necessary, is right for you.
  • Explain how any medications work and describe any side effects that may occur.
  • Tell you about any conditions for which you should receive prompt medical attention, including side effects, adverse reactions of your blood pressure medications with other medications, and complications related to your blood pressure.
  • Monitor you for side effects, and lower the dosage of your medication or switch you to a different type of medication if necessary.
 
 

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From Andrew Maynard - Chair of the University of Michigan Department of Environmental Health Sciences, with help from David Faulkner - 2013 Master of Public Health graduate.