Managing High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure, sometimes referred to as hypertension, is one of the leading risks for death in Canada and it affects 6 million Canadian adults. High blood pressure is also the #1 risk factor for stroke and continues to be a major risk factor for heart disease. This condition is a result of an increased rate of blood flow, which causes there to be an increased pressure in the vessels. The heart must exert more force than usual, to be able to pump blood around the body through the arteries.

Many people are not aware that they have this condition, as there are usually no symptoms associated with it. Thus, it is of great importance that you monitor your blood pressure regularly. There are two types of measures that determine one’s blood pressure: systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure. Systolic blood pressure is a measurement of the force on the arteries as the blood flows when the heart muscle contracts, which is the reading at the top of the screen. Diastolic blood pressure is a measurement of the force on the arteries that the blood flows when the heart muscle relaxes, which is the reading at the bottom of the screen. In other terms, systolic blood pressure is the greatest force of pressure the vessels feel, while diastolic blood pressure is the lowest force of pressure. A normal blood pressure reading is around 120/80 (measured with units mm Hg). The other two categories are medium risk and high risk, which have readings of about 121-134/81-84 and 135+/85+, respectively. These are the general rules, however, other medical conditions must be taken into consideration, such as diabetes.  For example, with diabetes, a blood pressure of around 130/80 is high risk, due to there being an even greater risk of heart disease and stroke.

There are many things that can be done to lower one’s blood pressure. For instance, maintaining a healthy body weight with a balanced diet can help reduce blood pressure. Specifically, limiting salt intake can greatly reduce one’s blood pressure, as it is usually what causes more and more younger adults to experience hypertension these days from the fast food diets. When the body consumes salt, there is increased water volume in the blood vessels, furthermore, causing blood pressure to rise. Thus, it is recommended by the Heart & Stroke Foundation that Canadians should eat <2300 mg of sodium (~1 tsp / 5 mL of salt) a day, while those with hypertension should eat <2000 mg of sodium per day. In addition to a healthier diet for your body, finding healthy ways to manage your mental health and stress for your mind is encouraged, as too much stress can also increase blood pressure. Going for walks, relaxing by the pool, or socializing with loved ones can help clear the mind.

When you have high blood pressure, your doctor will also prescribe you with medications to help. Some examples are Atenolol, _______, _______. As blood pressure is important to monitor especially due to its association with other medical conditions, it is crucial to talk to your healthcare providers, such as our team of pharmacists at Guildview Pharmacy, about a personalized plan that works best for you.

Written by: Pritika Thevasingha

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