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Thursday, October 23, 2014 10:00 am

Blood Pressure Awareness is Key to Control

How do you answer when asked, “How’s your blood pressure?”

Blood pressure awareness is just one of those health metrics that easily slips off the radar when we believe it’s not a problem. Although blood pressure checks are a routine part of our healthcare physical, many of us do not give it much thought once we leave the office.  Some of us may have an idea of whether it is “good” or “bad” but often that is the extent of our recall. Unless we are actively monitoring or attempting to manage our blood pressure most of us are likely to assume we don’t need to be concerned about it.  

Very often we simply do not know what our blood pressure is…until our next office visit. 

Blood pressure awareness is key to control
Blood pressure monitors are easy to use
(Photo credit: Victoria Kvilhaug)

Why blood pressure awareness is important…

Unless blood pressure is extremely high or extremely low there are usually no symptoms to bring a developing problem to our attention. High blood pressure (Hypertension) does greater damage to the body than low blood pressure (Hypotension).  Each condition leads to health consequences that are avoidable  with proper treatment.
Hypertension affects a growing number of people in the United States. The warning that hypertension is a silent killer has been sounded time and time again. Uncontrolled hypertension contributes to organ damage and weakens the walls of blood vessels in the body which can then lead to ruptures or hemorrhages. Hypertension is the most common cause of ruptured blood vessels in the brain (stroke).

Hypotension can lead to dizziness, fainting, and injury from falls.

Influencing factors…

Blood pressure is influenced by many factors; some of these influencing factors are within our control to change and others are not. While genetics remain a fixed factor at this time, other factors such as diet, exercise, stress can be modified resulting in positive outcomes.

Self-monitoring is easy!

Gradual changes and trends in blood pressure typically go unnoticed for sometime. For this reason it is important to make the effort to become aware of blood pressure readings between healthcare visits.

Public blood pressure monitoring equipment is frequently available at no charge in community pharmacies. The reliability of these machines has improved significantly in recent years.

Personal blood pressure monitors can be purchased at a reasonable cost in many pharmacies, retail stores, and online. These blood pressure monitors are easy to use, with features such as large memory capacity and multiple user capability.

It is recommended that your machine be checked against your doctor’s monitor prior to tracking. Personal blood pressure monitors are the most reliable method of tracking blood pressure outside of the medical setting. 

Things you can do: 
     • pay close attention when the nurse or medical assistant is measuring your blood pressure
     • ask for the numbers to be repeated or written down
     • monitor blood pressure at home, at the pharmacy, at the gym
     • keep a personal blood pressure log
     • manage blood pressure via diet, exercise and stress modification
     • take all prescribed medication on time as directed by your healthcare provider or pharmacist
Blood pressure awareness is key to control
Blood pressure monitoring is essential 
(Photo credit: Kathleen Kvilhaug)

Increasing your role in monitoring and managing your health is especially important if you want to live well and keep healthcare costs to a minimum.

Partnering with your healthcare team by embracing blood pressure awareness and management is a very good place to start. 

  • How reliable are the self-service BP monitors I see in grocery stores and pharmacies?

  • Self-service blood pressure monitors are more reliable today than they had been in the past. Most public monitors are recalibrated twice a year by a service contractor. If a reading seems unusually high or low, it is best to check it out on another device. Report the suspect monitor to management so it can be serviced.