I Have Hypertension, Now What?

Hypertension is the term used for high blood pressure. You can have high blood pressure for years without ever experiencing any symptoms. It increases your risk of many serious health issues including heart attack and stroke. Because it isn’t a condition that jumps out and bites you, it doesn’t appear on the radar screen of many people. It’s important to know your numbers and change your lifestyle accordingly, but once you are diagnosed with hypertension, what’s next?

According to Dr.  Sanjay Jaswani, of Southside Internal Medicine, the best choice is the natural option. “Once someone has been diagnosed with hypertension, depending on how elevated their blood pressure is, I give them the option of a three to six month trial of lifestyle intervention. By lifestyle intervention I mean regular physical exercise, weight loss, low sodium diet, and avoiding alcohol. If within the agreed time span these conservative measures help to bring down high blood pressure then we don’t have to go down the route of medications.”

When conservative measures fail it’s usually because the patient is unable to lose weight or stick to a low sodium diet. In that case, or when the blood pressure is extremely high (like 160 systolic – the first number in the blood pressure number) beginning medication immediately is the solution.

Although normal blood pressure is 120/80, Dr. Jaswani says that “We tend to be a little more aggressive with our diabetic patients so we have stricter targets for them and those with a history of hypertension. Numerous studies have shown hypertension is a proven clinical risk factor for poor cardiovascular outcomes, like heart attacks and strokes. If you keep your blood pressure down, then you decrease your chances of heart attacks and strokes. It’s as plain as that.”

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