High Blood Pressure

In a 2016 Harvard Health Minute, host Dr. Terry Schrader was talking with Dr. Naomi Fisher, Harvard associate professor and hypertension specialist about high blood pressure.

She asked the question, “Why is it so difficult for some people to hear a diagnosis of high blood pressure?”

There may be several reasons. First and most obvious is that it's easy to accept a diagnosis if there are symptoms, and hypertension generally has none. So, if you walk into a doctor's office and you have a cough, and you have a fever, and the doctor tells you that you have pneumonia, you get it. With high blood pressure there are generally no symptoms and it's a serious diagnosis. Another reason is because of the potential serious nature of the side effects and the damage that can occur.

But the important message is that you can prevent a lot of the side effects and even reverse damage if you take action.

Unless the blood pressure is so high you need to start with medications right away, here’s what you can do:

·        losing weight

·        more exercise

·        stop smoking

·        reduce your alcohol  

·        reduce stress

So, initial treatment recommendations could include initiating in a healthy diet, a healthy lifestyle, reducing salt, trying to reduce stress. Hypertension can occur at any age, although age is one of the biggest risk factors. As we age, our risk of high blood pressure increases, but people in their 20s, 30s, and 40s can be susceptible. We have seen huge differences in the life, in health and in the life expectancy of patients when they are motivated to make these changes.

One in three Americans has high blood pressure. Rather than be fear or disbelief, facing a diagnosis means you can take it on, you can control it, and with that you can control your risk and live a happy and healthy life. Listen to your doctor. Ask questions! Take care of yourself.

Thanks for reading.

-Dr. Joe

Taking control of your health

Listened to a fascinating TedTalk that looks at how physicians can work together to better diagnose and treat patients, but also, how patients can take a more active role in their care.

Eric Dishman has endured more than a fair share of health issues, but when faced with a dire diagnosis, he decided to take some control. He sees the foundations of our current healthcare system as faulty, dependent on too much guesswork and patient passivity, but he also poses a potential solution. Eric believes that if the fundamentals of care are developed in three main ways: caregiver networking, the personal customization of care, and what he calls “care anywhere,” which translates to the constant availability and accessibility of health advice regarding basic care, that people can more fully understand and direct their healthcare.

Dishman’s idea isn’t that far from what my colleagues and I have been aiming for with the Hospice and Palliative Care Advisory Group. The more informed we are, the better our decisions, and if we need more information, if we want an educated but unbiased opinion, it ought to be available. In this digital age, it should never be that difficult to get.

Eric closed by introducing the crowd to the woman who donated a kidney and saved his life. For many, it won’t be one person or one surgery, but it will be about making decisions and understanding that we can have a hand in the outcome. To watch the TedTalk, click here. To read about the Hospice and Palliative Care Advisory Group, click here.

Thanks for reading.

-Dr. Joe