Okay, time to be honest: When was the last time you had your blood pressure taken? For those people with diagnosed hypertension being treated with medications, there is a good chance that they have a home blood pressure monitor and will often self-check their BP. However, for those that do not have hypertension as a diagnosis, there is a good chance that no home monitor is available and the only time their BP is checked is when they go to a doctor’s office.
One of the nicknames for hypertension is: “The SILENT Killer”. The reason? Often, people with high blood pressure do not feel any symptoms whatsoever. No headaches, no dizziness, no nose bleeds etc…people can feel perfectly fine. BUT, the “Silent Killer” refers to the fact that high blood pressure can be “quietly” (i.e. without symptoms) be causing the vascular damage that leads to sudden heart attacks, strokes, burst of aneurysms and other catastrophic health events that cause immediate death.
Hypertension tends to run in families, as there is a strong genetic component to this. Obesity, excessive salt intake and lots of alcohol usage are reversible contributing factors to elevated blood pressure. Clearly, if your blood pressure is elevated or borderline, cutting salt intake, losing weight and reducing/eliminating alcohol usage could all be very helpful in controlling the blood pressure without the need for medication.
Many people fear medication due to potential side effects and the thought that: “Oh, no, once they put me on this I can never come off of it.” I am a very big believer in risk/benefit analysis when it comes to prescribing medication for patients. The risks of the newer BP meds are far less than the potential benefits of reducing the elevated blood pressure.
So, if the answer to the title of my entry is: “I Don’t Know”, then please proceed to obtaining a home BP cuff or visit your doctor. Aggressive control of blood pressure will lead to a healthier and happier life.
And if you do not have a doctor to check that blood pressure, The Beatles have a referral for you (laughing…a shameless self-promotion..listen to the lyrics!