It was a busy Thursday and I had just finished my classes. Before I went home, I sat in the office to check my e-mails.
Suddenly one of the staff came in a hurry, panic evident in his face. "Dr Wana, please come! Come and see Prof A! "
"What happened?" I ask her.
"He's feeling dizzy. I think he needs medical attention, "she said urgently.
Professor A was sitting when I saw him. When checking his statistics, I saw that his blood pressure was elevated to 198/100 mmHg.
Alarmed, I beg you to take a deep breath and try to relax. I discovered that he had reduced the dose of his blood pressure medication a few weeks ago.
He was later taken to the hospital, where, fortunately, the medical officer had authorized him to drive home when his blood pressure had normalized.
The situation of Prof A is, unfortunately, quite common.
Because high blood pressure usually does not cause symptoms until they reach dangerous levels, many patients simply stop or reduce their medication when they think they feel better.
In fact, when you have high blood pressure, the most important thing you can do is to continue taking the medication as directed.
If this causes side effects, talk to your doctor to resolve the problems. There may be alternatives that will be compatible with you.
No symptoms do not mean any risk
High blood pressure is a common condition, but many of us may not even know we have it because there are no symptoms.
Dizziness, as experienced by Prof A, shortness of breath and nosebleed may not occur until blood pressure has reached a dangerous level.
Other signs include blurred or other visual changes, nausea, confusion, seizures, blood or blood urine, and chest pain.
If you find yourself in a blood pressure emergency, stop any strenuous activity and withdraw from the environment that is causing stress.
You should also seek medical attention as soon as possible. In some cases, an emergency blood pressure may be fatal, causing internal bleeding, swelling of the brain or stroke.
Having high blood pressure leads to a number of health problems, including heart attack, stroke and kidney disease.
As there are usually no signs or symptoms, the only way to know if you have high blood pressure is to use a monitor or blood pressure meter.
Readings are routinely done during medical visits.
What can I do to lower my blood pressure?
In addition to taking your medications as directed, there are simple lifestyle changes that can help.
You can control your blood pressure by:
• Lose weight (if you are overweight).
• Choosing a diet low in fat and high in fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products.
• Reducing the amount of salt you eat.
• Do something active for at least 30 minutes a day on most days of the week.
• Reduce alcohol consumption (if you drink more than two alcoholic drinks per day).
• Get a blood pressure monitor at home. People who control their own blood pressure at home do better to keep it low and sometimes even reduce the amount of medicine they take.
What medications do I need?
There are many different remedies for treating high blood pressure. But some of the medicines have other health benefits, in addition to lowering blood pressure.
Your doctor will decide which medicine is best for you, depending on the following factors:
• How high your blood pressure is.
• Your other health problems, if you have any.
• How well you do with the medicines you experience.
Dr. Wana Hla Shwe is an associate professor at the Medical School of the University of Perdana. This article is courtesy of Perdana University. The information provided is for educational and communication purposes only and should not be construed as personal medical advice. The information published in this article is not intended to replace, supersede or increase a consultation with a health professional regarding the reader's medical care. Star disclaims any liability for any loss, damage to property or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly by reliance on such information.