Frankie Hoover, PA-C
Novant Health Lexington Primary Care
Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States. It is important to control high blood pressure because it increases the risk of stroke.
“High blood pressure is the one of the most important preventable risk factors for stroke,” says Frankie Hoover, a Physician Assistant with Novant Health Lexington Primary Care. “The higher the blood pressure, the higher the risk for a possible stroke and other health consequences.”
Optimal blood pressure is less than 120/80 mm Hg. In people who do not have diabetes or kidney disease, treatment for high blood pressure is usually started when three separate blood pressure readings show readings of 140 or higher for systolic blood pressure (top number) or 90 or higher for diastolic blood pressure (bottom number).
“If you are found to have high blood pressure by your healthcare provider,” comments Hoover, “he/she may first recommend lifestyle changes such as losing weight, improving your diet, and increasing your exercise. If these lifestyle changes don’t lower your blood pressure, then medication may be necessary.”
Many medications are available to treat high blood pressure. Your healthcare provider may start you on one medication or a combination of medications to control your blood pressure. Once you begin taking blood pressure medication, you may have to continue taking it for a long time, perhaps even for the rest of your life.
“Unfortunately, some people with high blood pressure stop taking their medication,” says Hoover. “If their blood pressure returns to normal on medication, they may feel they no longer need the medication. But normal blood pressure means the medication is doing its job. Halting medication will allow blood pressure to rise again, putting them at risk for stroke and other complications of hypertension.”
Reasons people frequently give for stopping medication:
• Unpleasant side effects, such as dizziness, fatigue, or cough
• Cost of the medication
• Lack of information about hypertension and how important it is to control
“If you experience unpleasant side effects, it is important to discuss them with your healthcare provider,” encourages Hoover. “Your provider may be able to switch you to a different medication, as there are many different classes of antihypertensive medications to choose from. The goal is to find medication(s) with few, if any side effects.”
“If the cost of the medication is a concern, your doctor may be able to prescribe an effective but less expensive alternative,” says Hoover. If you have questions about high blood pressure and its treatment, talk to your healthcare provider.
Here are some tips on how to remember to take your blood pressure medicine:
• Take it at same time each day.
• Take it with meals or with daily activities like brushing your teeth.
• Use a pill box marked with the days of the week.
• Keep a medication calendar near your medicine and mark off when you’ve taken each dose.
• Post a reminder note where you’ll see it or set a daily alarm on your phone.
For more information, visit nhlexingtonprimarycare.org or call Novant Health Lexington Primary Care at (336) 248-8692.