February 26, 2021 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

All About Aging: Q & A on High Blood Pressure:

By Sonja Rosen, M.D.

May is “High Blood Pressure Education Month,” which aims to raise awareness of this medical condition also known as hypertension. Below are some of the more common questions that I hear from my patients, along with my answers.

Q: “If my blood pressure is only high in the doctor’s office, or only sometimes, do I still need to treat it?”

A: Yes. Also called “white-coat hypertension,” stress-related high blood pressure requires treatment. Stress occurs daily in all of our lives, and none of us can predict, control or prevent it. When our bodies are stressed, our blood pressure naturally goes up. When we have high blood pressure, it goes up higher than it should (>140/90). We want to treat patients who have white-coat hypertension so their blood pressure does not get dangerously high under stress.

Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to eye and kidney disease, strokes and heart attacks. Complications of untreated hypertension include death. It is vitally important to treat high blood pressure, even if it is not always high. Blood pressure naturally goes up and down. However, we want the highs to remain within the normal range. There are some exceptions to this rule, including a few conditions that require a slightly elevated blood pressure for stable health. Ask your doctor about your target blood pressure.

Q: “Can I just try to lose weight and avoid salt, instead of taking blood pressure medication?”

A: Generally, if your blood pressure is high enough to warrant treatment, you will need to take medication to control it. If you are overweight, then losing weight is important because it will improve your overall health and mobility. It may also help lower your blood pressure in the long run or prevent you from taking more medications as you get older. However, losing weight is probably not enough to control high blood pressure. Also, if you consume a lot of salt, you should cut down anyway for better health. Doing so may help lower your blood pressure, but probably not enough to avoid medications.

Q: “If I start medication for blood pressure, will I have to take it forever?”

A: Chances are, yes. But this is not a bad thing! Many people commonly view taking medication as a “bad thing” or a sign of failure. They often think they are not better unless they can eliminate the high blood pressure entirely – and the need for medications. I often try to reframe my patients’ views on medication by reminding them that high blood pressure affects the majority of us as we age. Our arteries harden over time, causing increased resistance against the flow of blood and, ultimately, high blood pressure. It’s much better to know and treat it, than to not know or ignore it. The good news is that there are many medications – most with no or minimal side effects – that can effectively control blood pressure and prevent its secondary effects such as strokes and heart attacks.

Q: “Why do I have to take more than one medication for high blood pressure?”

A: Different medications work in different ways to control blood pressure. Therefore, one medication may help a little, but needs another medication to make it work more effectively. It is not uncommon to need several medications, working together to lower your blood pressure.

Finally, here are some key lifestyle changes to consider for healthy blood pressure:

• Have your blood pressure checked regularly.

• Take prescribed blood pressure medications as directed.

• Quit smoking.

• Eat a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables and low in sodium.

• Maintain a normal body weight based on body-mass index (BMI) guidelines.

• Get or stay active by taking brisk walks daily.

Dr. Sonja Rosen, board-certified in both geriatrics and internal medicine, is a geriatrician with the highly regarded UCLA Geriatrics Program in Santa Monica. She is also medical director of the Geriatrics Unit at UCLA’s new Santa Monica campus. Call (310) 319-4371 for more information.

in Health
Related Posts

5 Promising Medical Breakthroughs On The Horizon

February 3, 2021

February 3, 2021

Although we’re in a worldwide pandemic, many of us are still enjoying the comfort and convenience of being cared for...

Santa Monica Pier Closed for Five Days in a Row

January 13, 2021

January 13, 2021

City cites warm weather forecasted for Santa Monica By Sam Catanzaro With temperatures reaching the 80s expected, city officials are...

Do You Make These 3 New Year Resolution Mistakes?

January 4, 2021

January 4, 2021

Every new year, you feel a ray of hope. Perhaps this year, you can start your life all over again,...

Activities to do with your children during COVID-19

January 4, 2021

January 4, 2021

Typically, living in LA means eating out, art museums, and playgrounds– all things children love. With numbers of COVID-19 cases...

PIQUE Health Not Your Average Medical Practice

December 7, 2020

December 7, 2020

PIQUE Health is the very first comprehensive mens health center in Beverly Hills. With highly personalized treatment plans that fit...

Helping Older Loved Ones Pick a Retirement Home

December 3, 2020

December 3, 2020

There comes a time when a loved one needs some help to stay safe, which is when a retirement home...

A Tale of Two Hospitals: Santa Monica’s Medical Centers

December 3, 2020

December 3, 2020

The hospitals in Santa Monica feature the latest in technology and equipment; from a healthcare management perspective, they also provide...

5 Tips for Camping in the Santa Monica Mountains

December 3, 2020

December 3, 2020

The Santa Monica Mountain Range offers several pristine campsites that provide an escape from the hustle and bustle of Los...

COVID-19 Vaccine Reports Spark Hope For Americans

December 2, 2020

December 2, 2020

After nine grueling months of chaos, confusion, and grief, the FDA just approved the first COVID-19 vaccination. Just days ago,...

Santa Monica to Provide Thanksgiving Groceries to 1,430+ Food-Insecure Students and Families

November 17, 2020

November 17, 2020

SMC Foundation has raised $35,460 of the $50,000 toward charity event By Staff Writer Santa Monica College (SMC), the SMC Foundation,...

Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s Across Santa Monica Raises $96,000

October 27, 2020

October 27, 2020

Santa Monica and Westside residents walked throughout the city’s neighborhoods, parks and trails, waving flags and sporting purple outfits to...

Edify TV: National Women’s Health and Fitness Day!

September 28, 2020

September 28, 2020

September 30th marks National Women’s Health and Fitness Day, Here are a few fun activities to try out in celebration...

COVID-19 Could Have Been in Area as Early as Last December

September 15, 2020

September 15, 2020

UCLA study reports significant increase in coughs and acute respiratory failure prior to first official cases of COVID-19 By Sam...

County Walks Back Trick or Treating Ban

September 9, 2020

September 9, 2020

Department of Public Health now says trick or treating not recommended By Sam Catanzaro County health officials have walked back...

Trick nor Treat: LA County Bans Door to Door Trick or Treating

September 9, 2020

September 9, 2020

Update: the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has revised its Halloween guidelines. Previously, as reported below, officials planned...