Hypertension Day May 17, 2017 - HIGH-lighting HIGH Blood Pressure

May 9, 2017

By Barret Procyshyn

Hypertension or high blood pressure is called the "largest epidemic known to mankind." Someone dies from hypertension every 7 minutes with 20 million physician visits annually. This is because 9/10 Canadians will develop hypertension during their lifetime! With World Hypertension Day happening on May 17, it's a good time to talk about the leading cause of death worldwide.

Hypertension has three main causes, obesity due to inactivity, salt rich and fatty diet foods and the over consumption of alcohol and tobacco. Once you hit the age of 40, your risk for developing hypertension increases. The best way to treat this silent killer is to know your number! Too often even those with high blood pressure do not really know how high it is.

The role of the heart is to pump blood throughout the body. Our blood pressure is the force circulating blood creates within the walls of our blood vessels. Think of your heart as a water pump and your blood vessels as the plumbing. Hypertension is the same as the pressure being too high on the plumbing. Bad things like "leaks" or the pump quitting can happen. As pressure exerts on the blood vessels and as we get older the vessels become less elastic and more rigid. This in turn increases the risk for problems in the plumbing to develop. Uncontrolled high blood pressure leads to stroke, heart attack, congestive heart failure and kidney failure.

Before you can treat high blood pressure you have to know you have it. It is estimated 20% of those with hypertension are unaware they have it. Taking home pressure readings is the first and most important step of helping to deal with the problem. Taking home blood pressure readings also provides your doctor or pharmacist very important information for making decisions on how to best treat hypertension. Take the following steps for more reliable results:

  1. Measure your pressure at the same time each day to ensure comparable data. Your blood pressure fluctuates significantly throughout the day so taking your pressure in the morning and comparing it to a reading at night is not advisable.
  2. Empty your bladder (if necessary)
  3. Avoid eating, smoking or drinking caffeine before measuring
  4. Rest quietly for 5 minutes and remain calm while the measurement is in process.
  5. Do not speak while taking the measurement.
  6. Take measurements on the same arm. (We usually use the left)
  7. Sit with uncrossed legs so blood-flow is not restricted.
  8. Sit with the back supported and measurement arm resting on the table. Make sure your feet are flat on the floor.
  9. Place the cuff at the midpoint on the upper arm, approximately 1 inch or 2-3 cm above the elbow. The hose should be in line with the brachial artery (vein we see at the inside of the elbow).
  10. Ensure that the cuff is level with the heart while the arm is resting on the table.

Ideally we want to see blood pressures below 120/80. If your pressure is running between 120/80 to 140/90 try adopting healthy lifestyle behaviours to keep get your blood pressure down. If your pressure is running above 140/90 on a consistent basis you should speak to a doctor or pharmacist, as this could be dangerous to your health if left unmonitored.

If you need more information about taking your blood pressure at home or have questions about a blood pressure monitor, the Dauphin Clinic Pharmacy is here to help. We also sell a variety of blood pressure machines. A staff member can help select the best machine for you and your clinic pharmacist is always available to talk to you about your readings or hypertension medication. For the price of a month of cable television or your cell phone bill you can own a home blood pressure monitor which could help save your life! It can be a very good investment.


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