We've all heard someone say, "You're raising my blood pressure!"
Many people assume individuals with high blood pressure are angry or stressed. The fact is you can have high blood pressure without any symptoms. That's why doctors call high blood pressure the silent killer.
Although it may not show initial symptoms, high blood pressure causes damage that can lead to heart, brain and kidney disease. Qasim Cheema, M.D., at Lake Regional Nephrology, warns patients of the dangerous cycle of high blood pressure.
"There are two reasons for high blood pressure," Dr. Cheema said. "Either there is too much flow through a normal sized blood vessel or there is a normal flow through a blood vessel that is too narrow."
High blood pressure causes your heart to work harder to push blood through your blood vessels. Throughout time, this can deteriorate blood vessels, including the ones in the heart and kidneys.
"When the blood vessels of the kidneys are affected, they can stop doing their job, and waste and extra fluid builds up," Dr. Cheema said. "That extra fluid can, in turn, increase blood pressure. Therefore, kidney disease and high blood pressure can be both causes and effects of one another."
Lowering Blood Pressure
Diet and daily exercise is key to lowering high blood pressure. While dieting, watch out for frozen meals and snacks that advertise "less fat" or low-fat. These foods often try to make up for lost flavor by adding more salt. Dr. Cheema said some prepackaged foods can be detrimental to the efforts of lowering blood pressure.
"Healthy patients should consume less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day, but if you have high blood pressure, you should limit your intake to no more than 1,500 milligrams," Dr. Cheema said. "The average American consumes about 3,400. Read labels. If it helps you keep track, keep a sodium diary."
Monitor at Home
Buying a home blood pressure cuff can help alert you to medical problems. Dr. Cheema said patients that measure their own blood pressure are taking a positive step to stay aware and keep it under control.
"When patients measure their blood pressure at home, it is a much more accurate representation than having it checked in the doctor's office periodically," Dr. Cheema said. "And, seeing your blood pressure every day is a reminder to avoid things that increase high blood pressure."
Dr. Cheema will give more advice about lifestyle modifications and monitoring techniques that can help keep blood pressure under control at his forum, "Managing High Blood Pressure," scheduled 10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Thursday, May 16, at Lake Regional Hospital. In this free forum, Dr. Cheema will offer tips on lifestyle modifications, medicines that can help lower blood pressure and their side effects; ways to track blood pressure; and what desired blood pressure is for a variety of groups. For more information or to register, visit lakeregional.com/events.