Hypertension contributes to the leading cause of death in the world. This silent killer is directly linked to heart disease, stroke, and organ damage. You win if you can catch this stalker before harm is done.
Almost 25% of Canadians over the age of 20 have hypertension, and many are not aware they have it. Unfortunately, you won’t experience any symptoms until the damage is present. 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 travels at high pressure through these delicate structures of our body.
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 about 70% of those aged over 70 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.
What is high blood pressure? Several readings are required, but systolic pressure greater than or equal to 130 mm Hg or diastolic pressure greater than or equal to 80 mm Hg should have you seeking a doctor to start monitoring for hypertension.
The good news is that hypertension is easily treated. Catching it early will preserve healthy body functions and decrease your risk of death related to hypertension. Regular blood pressure monitoring is important, providing useful information for your doctor and easily done in the comfort of your home.
Damage from high blood pressure is not reversible, so catching hypertension before you feel something 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 blood pressure checks are important. Your Pharmachoice pharmacist can help you start self-monitoring and stop a silent killer.