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It affects almost half of all adults in the United States. In fact, some doctors worry that the of cases of high blood pressure may have grown in the time of COVID Some people may be eating more and gaining weight , and some have a lot more stress , and we know those things can raise blood pressure. For Dr. Spatz and others, a clear directive remains: When it comes to blood pressure, know your s, even if it means monitoring them at home.
But if you have the condition, it means that inside your body, the blood flowing from your heart down through the arteries is exerting too much force on the arterial walls. This extra high pressure le to tears in the walls of the arteries, where fat and cholesterol collect. That le to the formation of plaque that narrows and blocks the vessels, leading to strokes , heart attacks, and other serious diseases—and even death.
But because of the pandemic, some people have avoided or delayed routine medical checkups, which translates into missed blood pressure checks. And that is concerning to some doctors. Although doctors have been encouraging patients to self-monitor their blood pressure since before the pandemic, many are reluctant.
As a nephrologist, Dr. Peixoto cares for people who have kidney disease, which is closely related to high blood pressure. Hypertension is the second most common cause of chronic kidney disease in the United States, and appropriate blood pressure control decreases the chances that kidney disease will progress to kidney failure. Peixoto says. Measuring your blood pressure is generally a simple process if you have a blood pressure monitor. It has an inflatable blood pressure cuff, which must first be wrapped around your arm—the bottom of the cuff should be placed directly above the bend of the elbow.
When you use the machine to inflate it, the cuff will tighten gently while a gauge on it measures your blood pressure. Your reading can be affected by what you eat or drink beforehand, how you sit, and even how nervous you are beforehand. Be sure to talk to your doctor if you have any questions or concerns related to the accuracy of your at-home blood pressure monitoring.
The CDC provides the following tips to ensure your reading is accurate:. In the U. Men are more likely than women to develop high blood pressure until age 64; the trend reverses at age 65, when women are at higher risk. Spatz says. Sometimes you get in the office and maybe it's elevated because you rushed to get there, or you're nervous about being there, or for whatever reason it may be.
For those interested in at-home blood pressure monitoring, there are options. Some patients may check their blood pressure at a pharmacy the CDC recommends finding a pharmacy that has a digital blood pressure measurement machine. But Drs.
Measuring your blood pressure at home is associated with a variety of benefits, Dr. Spatz adds. Some doctors are becoming more high-tech about gathering blood pressure data from patients. Doctors gave cuffs to patients seen in their cardiology clinic, as well as to postpartum women who had hypertension or preeclampsia during pregnancy before they left the hospital.
This way they could follow them closely for six weeks after birth, which doctors say is still a vulnerable period where blood pressure could increase and lead to life-threatening complications. While it may take some time before that service is available to more patients, Dr.
Spatz hopes to see it become more common in the future, along with other possible innovations. The project is funded by the National Institutes of Health, and there is no timeline yet for when such a device will be available for patients. When you know your s, blood pressure is one of the most treatable conditions there is, says Dr. There are many prescription medications that can bring down high blood pressure. High blood pressure can lead to high cholesterol , so doctors may also prescribe statins, which are medications that lower LDL, or bad cholesterol, and are helpful in preventing heart attack and stroke.
But many people who are diagnosed with hypertension early can lower their blood pressure by making lifestyle modifications, such as eating healthier food, cutting back on alcohol and salt, exercising, and losing weight, if necessary. She recommends the DASH Diet , which has been shown in research studies to reduce high blood pressure. Checking your s is critical especially during the pandemic, doctors say. The CDC provides the following tips to ensure your reading is accurate: Avoid eating or drinking 30 minutes beforehand.
Empty your bladder first. Before taking a reading, spend at least 5 minutes sitting in a comfortable chair with your back supported. Put both feet flat on the ground and uncross your legs. Rest the arm that you will wrap the cuff around on a table at chest height. Wrap the cuff against your skin, not over your clothes. Make sure it is snug but not too tight. Do not talk while measuring your blood pressure. Take at least two readings, 1 to 2 minutes apart.
Blood pressure is measured using two s: S ystolic is the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats the highest pressure. D iastolic is the pressure in your arteries when your heart rests between beats the lowest pressure.
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Should You Check Your Blood Pressure at Home?