What Doctors Would Like Patients To Know About High Blood Pressure

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Almost half of adults have high blood pressure. But the tricky part is that a lot of people don’t know they have this condition. This is because when a person’s blood pressure is high, they may not experience any symptoms. This is why it is important to understand high blood pressure.

AMA’s What Doctors Wish Patients Knew â„¢ series provides physicians with a platform to share what they want patients to understand about today’s healthcare headlines, especially throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

For this article, Neha Sachdev, MD, family physician and director of health systems relations at WADA, shared what she and her fellow doctors would like patients to know about high blood pressure.

The only way to know if you have high blood pressure is to measure your BP at home or have it measured by a healthcare professional. Your doctor can then “look at your numbers and determine if you have high blood pressure,” said Dr Sachdev.

“High blood pressure increases the risk of serious events like a heart attack or stroke,” she said, noting that “it is important to know if you have high blood pressure because your doctor and you can take steps to lower your blood pressure and help prevent these results.

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When taking your blood pressure, keep in mind that your BP has two digits: systolic and diastolic.

“Systolic is the highest number and it’s the pressure on your arteries when the heart is beating,” Dr. Sachdev said. “The diastolic is the lower number and it’s the pressure between beats.

“Both numbers are taken into consideration by your doctor to determine if you have high blood pressure and, if so, what to do about treatment,” she added.

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Since your numbers are used by your doctor to make decisions, it is essential that your blood pressure be measured accurately.

“Whether in your doctor’s office or at home, make sure your blood pressure is measured using proper preparation, technique and positioning,” Dr Sachdev said, noting “the BP measurement can be affected in many ways and there are common errors that lead to inaccurate measurements.

“For example, using blood pressure cuffs that are too small or too large can increase or decrease measurement results,” she said. “If you are going to take your BP at home, your doctor and healthcare team should teach you how to take your blood pressure. This includes making sure that you are using a device that takes accurate measurements.

“Your healthcare team should also teach you how to use your device and how to prepare and position for the measurement,” added Dr Sachdev. “You also need to know how many steps to take and for how long. And your team should let you know when and how to communicate the results of your BP measurements to them.

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Measuring blood pressure at home “is very helpful for your doctor because it provides the BP numbers in the environment you are in most of the time,” said Dr Sachdev. “You also take measurements twice a day for several days. This gives a more complete picture of your BP numbers that your doctor can use to make decisions about your treatment.

Patients also benefit from having their blood pressure measured at home, she said. “You can learn more about your own BP patterns and numbers, and you can share your observations and thoughts with your doctor. “

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“If you have high blood pressure, you and your doctor can talk about your goal for your numbers,” said Dr Sachdev, noting that “your treatment depends on your numbers and what other medical conditions you have.”

And of course, “you and your doctor should also discuss which treatment is best for you and make a plan together,” she said.

Dietary approaches to stopping the hypertension diet (DASH) “have been proven to lower your blood pressure, sometimes as much as a drug can,” said Dr Sachdev. “The DASH diet is also a diet that many people can follow because it doesn’t restrict certain foods like a low-carb or low-fat diet would.

“You can eat a lot of foods, especially a lot of fruits, vegetables and whole grains,” she added.

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For all patients, healthy lifestyle changes should be part of the treatment plan.

Lifestyle changes that have been shown to help lower your blood pressure include “eating a healthy diet, like the DASH diet, getting plenty of physical activity, maintaining a healthy body weight, reducing your sodium intake.” and moderate your alcohol consumption, ”said Dr. Sachdev. “Talk to your doctor about some steps you can take to start making lifestyle changes and if there are resources to help you make a lasting change. “

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“Ideally, you should be consuming less than 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day,” said Dr. Sachdev. “But any amount of reduction can help.”

“There is often a lot of sodium in packaged or prepared foods,” she said. That’s why “learning to read nutrition labels really helps. Sometimes you may not realize how much sodium is in a particular food ”.

“You can also track your diet to see how much sodium you are taking in on a typical day,” said Dr. Sachdev, noting that “monitoring your sodium can help you find ways to reduce.”

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While “the change in lifestyle is very beneficial for lowering blood pressure, many patients need medication to reach their BP goal,” said Dr Sachdev.

“You and your doctor should talk about the medications you are prescribed and how they work to lower your BP,” she said.

“Doctors want to know if patients have any concerns, especially about medications. We want you to tell us if you don’t want to take medication or are worried about taking medication and why, ”Dr Sachdev said. “When you have a visit to your doctor, ask questions and share your thoughts. “

“Patients should feel empowered to ask questions and share what they’re feeling because it’s their care, it’s their body, it’s their life and we want to know,” she said.

WADA has developed online tools and resources created using the latest evidence to help physicians and healthcare teams manage the high blood pressure of their patients. These resources are available to all physicians and healthcare systems through Target: BP â„¢, a national initiative co-led by the AMA and the American Heart Association.


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