Fellas, we are notoriously bad about going to the doctor.
I often do not see a male patient until something bad has happened, or they have tried every home remedy they can. This can be comical: we all know someone that avoids the doctors office at all costs (ol’ uncle Jim, he won’t set foot in the doctors office). However, when a more ominous disease process isoccurring, it is not always noticeable. This can result in permanent, and sometimes severe, outcomes that can lead to disability, and sometimes death.
Today, I am going to talk about the king of silent diseases in men: High Blood Pressure, also known as HYPERTENSION. Hypertension is the most common reason for office visits that are for the purpose of recheck and refill of chronic medications. Having said that, less than half of hypertension patients do not have adequate control. That is a stunning and disturbing number. Many people wonder that their blood pressure should be. A normal blood pressure is measured by the ‘top’ number, known as the SYSTOLIC number; and the ‘bottom’ number, known as the DIASTOLIC number (for those of you who do not know, the higher number is the systolic number, always on the top, the diastolic lower number is always listed on the bottom). A normal blood pressure is a systolic (top) number less than 120, and a diastolic (bottom) number less than 80.
True hypertension is defined in two stages:
HYPERTENSION STAGE 1: 130-139 systolic/80-89 diastolic
HYPERTENSION STAGE 2: 140 or greater/90 or greater
If one number is high and the other is normal, that reading still signifies high blood pressure. Also, many people believe that if high blood pressure is treated and the number is in the normal range, they no longer have the diagnosis of hypertension; that is untrue. That person would be
known as having TREATED HYPERTENSION. Office readings are typically more accurate than home readings by take home machines. Home
readings can be very helpful though, if the machine is accurate, and the person operates it appropriately.
TIP 1: To make sure, I encourage patients to bring their home machine to the office and check blood pressure both ways to make sure the numbers are similar. Many people may have WHITE COAT HYPERTENSION; that is, their blood pressure is high while in the office but normal at other times.
TIP 2: If you believe you have white coat hypertension and your blood pressure is normal when you take it while relaxing at home, it is
possible that the pressure is going up in response to other stressors during the day (trouble at work, heavy traffic, etc.). I would encourage checking blood pressure at those times as well when you are able; that way, you can tell if it is high at different times during the day. If so, you
still require intervention for your blood pressure.
How did I get hypertension? How often do I need to be checked? What sorts of tests do I need to make sure my hypertension has not done me any harm? What changes do I need to make in my life to help control my hypertension? Do I have to take medication the rest of my life? What
types of side effects can occur from taking medication? When do I need to contact my doctor? Can I live a normal life?
These are all common questions when one finds out they have hypertension. Next week, I will be covering these topics. I would also be glad to address any questions or concerns you may have.
I hope I was a help. Thanks for tuning in, and we will talk when we talk.
James T. Cail III, DO