Dr. Ben Lui, On Lok’s Chief Medical Officer, answers your questions about hypertension

What is hypertension?

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is one of the most common chronic conditions.

For seniors, it is typically a blood pressure measurement higher than 140 over 90.

What are the symptoms of hypertension?

Usually, there are no symptoms. To find out if you have hypertension, you need a blood pressure measurement.

If there are no symptoms, why is it so important to treat hypertension?

Hypertension can cause strokes, heart disease, kidney disease, and vision problems. Treating and managing your blood pressure helps prevent these serious conditions and maintain your quality of life.

What causes hypertension?

Risk factors for hypertension include advanced age, family history, and race. African Americans, for example, are at higher risk. Other factors include being overweight, lack of physical activity, drinking too much alcohol, and a high- sodium diet.

What is “white coat” hypertension?

Often, a blood pressure reading taken at your doctor’s office will be higher than a measurement taken at your home. This is called “whitecoat” hypertension. It maybe caused by anxiety about seeing the doctor or by making the trip to the medical office.

To get an accurate blood pressure measurement, your healthcare provider might ask you to relax for a few minutes before taking your blood pressure. Your doctor might also ask you to take your blood pressure at home and bring in the results to compare. Home blood pressure readings are usually more accurate than measurements taken at your doctor’s office.

What can I do to lower my risk of hypertension?

Medications and lifestyle changes can lower your risk of hypertension:

  • Eat a low-sodium diet rich in fruit and vegetables.

  • Exercise regularly.

  • Lose weight if needed.

  • Talk to your primary care provider about the right treatment for you.

If you are taking too many medications, there is a higher risk of side effects. Lowering blood pressure too much may cause falls or fainting. So let your doctor know If you or your loved one is not taking medications as prescribed or if you have fainting spells or other unusual symptoms.

Typically, we want to maintain blood pressure under 140/90. In the case of older participants, that number might change based on lower home blood pressure readings and the number of prescriptions they take. Treatment should be individualized to meet the goals of care and to balance the benefits against the risk of low blood pressure and falls.

Can you cure hypertension?

Hypertension is a chronic condition. With lifestyle changes and medication, we can work together to keep it under control and prevent complications.

Source: Dr. Ben Lui, On Lok’s Chief Medical Officer