High Blood Pressure

Hypertension or high blood pressure is a common condition.

At Reedyford healthcare we  have approximately 1700 patients who have hypertension and we would like to make your experience of managing this condition as simple as possible.

The way we manage high blood pressure has changed slightly over the past couple of years. You may find that the information in the websites is different to what your doctors or nurses have said to you before. The changes have mainly been around the thresholds for starting treatment and the tests that we do to make sure that you really do have high blood pressure in the first place.

There are  some excellent websites available which provide  information about high blood pressure, how it is treated and what you can do to help your blood pressure to be better controlled.

Making a few lifestyle changes now  could  reduce the need for you to take even more tablets as you get older.

If you have been told that your Blood Pressure is high then you probably want to be considering the following questions;

  • Is my  Blood Pressure truly high ? Could  there be another reason for the high reading ?
  • Do I need to start taking medication now and continue it for the rest of my life ?
  • How often do I need to recheck my Blood Pressure ?
  • What is my target Blood Pressure ?
  • What can I do to reduce my Blood Pressure ?
  • What about my Cholesterol?  Do I need to recheck my Cholesterol level ?

The NHS has produced a Patient Decision Aid for High Blood Pressure   (Click on the words to open it up) To help to answer these questions .  The decision aid  is a useful way to learn about what high blood pressure is, what the treatment options are and how they could affect your lifestyle. It includes short videos and allows you to print off information for later use. It has been designed to help you make an informed decision about how you would like to manage your high blood pressure.

You may want to try lifestyle changes first for a couple of months , or try lifestyle changes and medication at the same time. Be realistic about what you are likely to change in the next 3 months. Exercising more , and eating and drinking more healthily will all help to reduce your blood pressure and probably make you feel more healthy anyway in the long run.

Is my Blood Pressure Reading a True Reading ?

Many people find that their Blood Pressure goes up if they are in a stressful or unfamiliar setting e.g. the doctors surgery. You may have been told to see your GP after having a high reading detected at a hospital outpatient appointment or routine checkup.

Before considering changing your blood pressure medication it is worth while checking that your BP is persistently raised by getting it checked on a couple of occasions if possible.

Watch the video below and read the webpages about how to take a blood pressure reading  so that you are aware of what to do and what not to not do, within 30 minutes of having your BP measured.

Asking the GP or nurse to do ” a quick check” at the end of your appointment could result in the reading being falsely high as you are trying to rush it.

 

All you need to start self managing your BP is a way of recording your BP readings and some understanding about what your personal BP targets are. Your overall BP target will depend on what other conditions you have. We have provided a downloadable chart for using to record your BP  readings. There are also a variety of apps , many of them free, which you can use for logging your BP readings on your phone or computer. Be sure to bring these readings with you when you come to your appointment.

Where Can I Go to Get My Blood Pressure Checked ?

We have a range of options.

    1. Ask the Pharmacist – many are able to offer a free BP check, and often have a private area for this.
    2. Home BP monitors for patients to borrow – please ask at reception.
    3. Our Health Care Assistant nurses can check your Blood pressure – book an appointment at reception.
    4. Buy your own  Blood Pressure Monitor for approximately £30 – this is a worthwhile investment and is our recommended option.

The British Hypertension Society publishes a list of monitors that meet their requirements for measuring Blood Pressure accurately . You can see that there are several with their red ‘validated symbol” for approximately £30 . We recommend that you look at the list before buying a monitor. One of our local chemists in Nelson is currently selling a good value BP machine for  £19 that is suitable for home use.

Model UA-651

This BP machine is exceptional value , as it is also able to detect irregular heart beats.

Having your own BP monitor means that it is much easier for the Doctor or Nurse to know what your true BP readings are when you are at home in your “normal’ surroundings. Many people have a BP that is much higher than their usual readings when they are in somewhere unfamiliar like a health centre or Hospital. Why not do some readings before your next clinic appointment ? It could save you having to make a follow-up appointment if your BP is high when you see the GP or nurse.

Do I need to start taking medication now ?

Your GP or nurse can advise you about this. How high your readings are, and what other conditions you have will influence your decisions about when to start treatment. Once your treatment has started you will need to continue to take the tablets every day for them to be able to lower your Blood pressure. The Patient Decision Aid for Hypertension can help you to make a more informed decision about starting or changing your treatment.

What is My Target Blood Pressure ? How often should I check it ?

Ask your Doctor or Nurse. There are different BP targets for different conditions.

Check your BP at least every 6 months, and ideally prior to a clinic appointment.

What Can I do to Reduce My Blood Pressure ?

Making some changes in your diet , exercise and drinking habits can reduce your Blood Pressure.

Visit the  NHS Choices website for advice about lowering your Blood Pressure.

What about My Cholesterol ? Does that need rechecking ?

Cholesterol can be confusing. It is another aspect of health that has changed over the past 10 years. Broadly speaking , we will check your cholesterol and / or lipid profile every year as part of your annual hypertension blood tests ONLY  IF YOU ARE NOT ALREADY TAKING TABLETS  (called statins) TO REDUCE YOUR CHOLESTEROL. This is because we use the cholesterol level to determine if we need to start a patient on a statin, but we do not need to recheck the level of cholesterol once the patient has started taking them – if the patient only has high blood pressure.

If you have other conditions such as diabetes or have had a stroke or heart attack we will be wanting to get your cholesterol to below a particular target.

If you only have hypertension and no other significant long term condition, we do not treat to a particular cholesterol target.

We would suggest that you start  taking  a statin tablet  if your cardiac risk is > 20% , but do not need to recheck the cholesterol level once you have started taking it as you will be gaining benefit no matter what your subsequent level of cholesterol is.

 

Other Useful Links for Hypertension ( High Blood Pressure ) 

Hypertension Info from the NHS Choices Website

Self Management of High Blood Pressure Plan – care of North Somerset CCG