Keeping your blood pressure in check is important to your health, especially for your brain, heart and kidneys.
Working with your primary care physician, you can reach your blood pressure goals, whether it’s lowering or maintaining a good number.
A good first step is to educate yourself. If you have concerns about your blood pressure, making an appointment with your physician and asking your questions can be helpful for establishing a plan of care.
According to the American Heart Association, start with getting a basic understanding of what the numbers mean, what’s normal, how high blood pressure can affect your health and if your physician has any concerns about your blood pressure.
Blood pressure readings look at two numbers: systolic and diastolic. The top number is the systolic reading. It is the amount of pressure in your arteries while your heart is contracted. The diastolic reading is the bottom number and shows the pressure in your arteries between beats. Ask your physician what each of your numbers mean and how your blood pressure measurement can affect your health.
If your physician says your numbers are good, ask what you can do to maintain them. Diet, especially sodium intake, exercise and stress can all affect your blood pressure. Your doctor can go over recommendations for a healthy diet and exercise habits that will help you maintain good blood pressure.
High blood pressure might involve a more extensive conversation depending on your general health. Good questions to have at the ready include:
- How high is my blood pressure and what should it be?
- Can I make lifestyle adjustments to help get my blood pressure under control?
- Do you recommend medication? Which ones and are there any side effects?
- How often should I monitor my blood pressure? How do I do that at home?
- If you have any other conditions such as diabetes or COPD, ask your physician how high blood pressure could affect them as well.
Getting these questions answered should help you get on solid footing about managing your blood pressure.
Many people consider their doctor the quarterback of their health care team because they help you manage your overall health and well-being. Yearly physicals and monitoring your blood pressure will help you enjoy a long, healthy life.