What To Do with a Hypertension Diagnosis.
When someone is diagnosed with hypertension, the end prognosis depends on how well they can turn it around. Many factors lead to a diagnosis such as this one, and it can, in the end, be better when taken care of in the right way.
The first thing you will want to build is healthy habits. For instance, aim to watch your weight, exercise daily, eat a lower-salt, higher potassium/magnesium diet, and avoid a smoking habit. These are all key factors in taking a step in the right direction. If you were previously prescribed medication, it is important that you’re taking that consistently, while you work on all of the other contributing factors.
In this article, we will talk about what a hypertension diagnosis is, how to build healthy habits, and what living with this disease looks like.
What is Hypertension?
Hypertension is more commonly known as high blood pressure, and this condition is a long-term force of blood against your artery walls. If it becomes high enough, it can eventually cause health problems, such as heart disease.
Blood pressure is determined by the amount of blood your heart pumps and the amount of resistance to blood flow in your arteries. The more blood your heart pumps and the smaller your arteries get, and the higher your blood pressure. A blood pressure reading is given in millimeters of mercury, and it has two numbers.
- The top number (systolic pressure). The first, or upper, number measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats.
- The bottom number (diastolic pressure). The second, or lower, number measures the pressure in your arteries between beats.
You can have high blood pressure for years without any symptoms, and uncontrolled high blood pressure increases your risk for serious health problems, including heart attack and stroke. Fortunately, high blood pressure can be easily detected. And once you know you have high blood pressure, you can work with your doctor to control it.
Building Healthy Habits.
Once you are diagnosed with high blood pressure, some life changes will have to take place. The best thing is to build healthier habits and get back on track with your body. There is more that you need to do than just take medication routinely. While this will greatly help, and is needed for some people, nothing will change if you continue with your same routine. Take these steps into consideration to create healthy habits.
- Healthy Eating: There have been scientific studies conducted that conclude switching your diet to a more Mediterranean style will help lower your blood pressure. This style of food decreases the death rate associated with cardiovascular disease, and it reduces blood pressure in addition to blood sugar and lipid levels. The Mediterranean diet is rich in fruits and vegetables, nuts, and fish instead of red meat. Hypertensive people should watch out for red meats, salt intake, canned foods, ready-made meals, and sugary drinks.
- Exercise: Patients should complete regular, non-competitive aerobic exercise (walking, cycling, swimming, etc.). This should preferably be completed daily rather than on alternate days, and 1 hour is better than 30 minutes. Either way, you should only exercise at full level after building up over a period of time.
- Sleep: Refreshing sleep increases everybody's quality of life, and patients with well-controlled hypertension do not normally suffer from sleep problems. It is important to sleep well, as insomnia increases blood pressure.
Side Effects of Hypertension.
- High Blood Pressure Crises: A hypertensive urgency is an extreme increase in blood pressure, with blood pressure numbers are anything above 180 for systolic and 110 for diastolic. Elevations this severe can have additional side effects such as headaches, nosebleeds, and even instability (if symptomatic, then referred to as hypertensive emergency). Common contributors that lead to these episodes can include if you are not taking your medication routinely, making certain nutritional decisions, high levels of stress, poor sleep, or taking medications that are affecting your high blood pressure medication effectiveness.
- Stroke: This can occur when there is not enough blood coursing to your brain, or if dangerously elevated blood pressure leads to bleeding in the brain. Signs of an ischemic stroke include loss of strength in one area of the body, coupled with tingling sensations, inability to walk, or sudden loss of vision. Symptoms of an intracranial bleed can often include severe headache, altered mental status, vomiting, unequal pupils, and seizures, among other symptoms.
- Heart Attack: High blood pressure can cause heart attacks in this worst-case scenario. If you do not react to your hypertension diagnosis, there is a high chance of this taking place. Like a stroke, a heart attack indicates that your heart is not getting enough blood flow. There is extreme pain in the heart, arms, and neck when this occurs.
- Vascular Emergencies - abnormally elevated blood pressure can also precipitate damage to our arteries, with the most severe complications including aortic aneurysms and/or aortic dissections (tears in the arterial inner lining). In these extreme cases, there is often a need for emergent lowering of blood pressure, in addition to often needing emergency surgery.
If you are experiencing any of these pains, call 911 or obtain care in an emergency room immediately.
Side Effects of High Blood Pressure Medication.
Given that hypertension is a chronic condition, treatment is continuous and, in most cases, must be followed for life. Patients who need drugs to reduce their blood pressure are exposed to their side effects; fortunately, current antihypertensive drugs have very few or even no side effects.
The most common side effects are:
- Swollen Ankles: This is most common with calcium-based HBP medications. And if you are someone that has a consistent exercise routine, your ankles shouldn’t swell as much.
- Persistent Cough: This is common with angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors.
Many people do find that as they make lifestyle and nutrition changes, often with accompanying weight loss, they are able to lower or eliminate the need for medications. In addition, while side effects of the medications can occur, you can always ask your doctor to switch your medication, so you are not dealing with another side effect to endure.
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