High blood pressure

Posted on 25 September 2014

High blood pressure (or hypertension) has been described as a side effect of modern life. Dr Kobus Hugo, a GP with special interest in sports medicine, based at the Lowmed Health and Sport Performance Centre in Nelspruit, explains the next steps once you’ve been diagnosed.

What are the symptoms to watch for in the case of hypertension?
You may not present with any symptoms of high blood pressure, yet be diagnosed with it. In many cases, the first time a patient realises he has hypertension is when a doctor tells him during a routine examination. The most common initial symptoms of hypertension are a headache or dizziness.

If you’ve been diagnosed with hypertension specifically, what steps can you take/lifestyle changes can you make to keep it in check?

When hypertension is diagnosed, the patient has to ensure he undertakes the following good health checks:
• Consult a dietician for a low-salt diet and to lose weight if he’s obese.
• Consult a biokineticist for an exercise programme or, if one is not available, add taking a brisk walk for 40 minutes, four times a week to your routine. Patients with high blood pressure should avoid exercise programmes where heavy weights are used, as it increases the blood pressure drastically and puts an additional load on the heart’s left ventricle.
• Stop bad habits like smoking and drinking excessive amounts of alcohol.
It’s been shown that, in some cases, effective lifestyle modifications may result in such an improvement to a patient’s overall health and then they could even come off their medications.

How often should hypertensive patients see their doctor to monitor their heart health?
Hypertension should be treated much more aggressively when any of the following major risk factors for heart disease are present, namely diabetes, high cholesterol and smoking. The patient should be checked on a weekly basis until such time that their blood pressure comes under control. Thereafter, it should be checked at six-monthly intervals.

 



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Published in Cardiology

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