Stop the silent killer. High blood pressure is a covert assassin, skilled at far-reaching damage in our bodies. The leading causes of death in Canada are heart disease and stroke, and the direct link is our wiley assassin – hypertension.
More than 20% of Canadians over the age of 20 have hypertension, and many are not aware they have it. Unfortunately, you won’t experience any symptoms with high blood pressure until the damage is present. What is the damage and why the concern? Think of a high-pressure washer and how it can blast away anything in its path. Great for cleaning, but imagine the damage to your organs (kidney, liver, heart, brain) if blood travelled at high pressure.
As we age, blood pressure can rise because our arteries are not as flexible, or they can get clogged (arteriosclerosis). The risk of having hypertension increases with age, with 90% of those aged over 65 having high blood pressure.
Excess salt in our diet will also increase blood pressure. Reducing the salt in your diet can help with hypertension. Exercise and diet are important to maintain a healthy heart and circulatory system. However, another often overlooked prevention tool is monitoring your blood pressure. Regular physician visits to check on your overall health, signs of hypertension and monitoring for hypertension is essential.
So what is high blood pressure? Several readings are required, but home blood pressure readings greater than or equal to a systolic blood pressure of 135 mm Hg or diastolic blood pressure greater than or equal to 85 mm Hg are considered high.
The great news is hypertension is treatable, but you need to know if you have it. The damage from high blood pressure is not reversible, so prevention is important. Your PharmaChoice pharmacist can help you select a blood pressure measuring device. Blood monitoring devices must fit and be used properly. Your pharmacist can go over the use of your device, how often and when to take readings, and how to record your results for your doctor. Some important tips for home blood pressure monitoring:
- Your device should be validated and the cuff size appropriate for you
- Take pressure reading on your non-dominant arm or arm that has a higher pressure reading
- Be comfortably seated and at rest for 5 minutes before taking a reading
- Your arm should be supported on a firm surface with the cuff at heart level
- Don’t smoke, exercise or have caffeine for at least 30 minutes before the reading
- Do two readings each time
- Do a reading in the morning before taking medications and breakfast
- Do a reading in the evening, 2 hours after dinner, but before medications (if possible)
Regular home-monitoring is important and can assist your doctor in treating you. Your Pharmachoice pharmacist can help you start self-monitoring.