Once a diagnosis of high blood pressure, or hypertension, is made you should discuss the causes, treatment, and prognosis with your doctor. It is important to prepare for the initial doctor visit and hence to decrease the associated anxiety. After all, anxiety can only make blood pressure higher.
Patients who come unprepared to their doctor sometimes have “white coat hypertension” or elevated blood pressure when the doctor in his or her white coat walks into the room.
On a visit, your doctor may ask about your lifestyle, your diet, current medications, your other medical problems, your prior laboratory and heart tests, and finally, your family history. It is difficult to remember all this information. I recommend that my patients keep a mini medical record with them. This document should include:
- Medical problems (past and present)
- Past surgeries
- Current medications (including all vitamins, natural supplements, and herbs)
- Allergies and any problem medications
- Family medical problems
- Most recent laboratory tests (bring the last few sets if available)
- Records of tests and procedures
- A dietary log (list of everything you ate for the prior two weeks)
- Questions you want to ask the doctor
If possible, contact the medical records department of doctors’ offices and hospitals where you have been evaluated to get copies of your medical record. Bring this with you to the doctor’s visit.
Depending on how high your blood pressure is, your doctor may recommend changing your diet, your exercise routine, or medications. It is important to understand that these strategies are meant to lower your blood pressure and prevent long-term risks such as stroke and heart disease.
These strategies and medications will usually not make you feel better right away. As a matter of fact, you may feel nothing at all once you start a new medication. The goal of treating high blood pressure is to keep you healthy well into the future.
A final important point; before starting or stopping a diet, exercise routine, or a medication always discuss this with your doctor. All of these changes can yield great benefit but also have risks. Find a doctor who listens and ask him lots of questions.
Good luck. Good health. And, have an excellent holiday season.
Published On: December 15, 2006