“Dr Irena’s” Health Tips – No. 1.

We recently had contact with a retired UK doctor who now lDr Irena photoives in North Cyprus and met her at Kamiloglu Hospital – Kyrenia Medical Centre where she was looking after reception/patient liaison along with other English speaking people who are giving their time to ensure a good medical service for English speaking expatriates.

Irena kindly offered to write some articles about basic health issues which may be of interest to our readers.

By Irena Hulson

Blood pressure

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is something to be concerned about because if it is left untreated, it can lead to a range of health Blood Pressureproblems, including heart disease and stroke. The trouble with high blood pressure is there are not usually any obvious symptoms. There are also some common misconceptions about hypertension. We help you dispel these myths:

Early on, you most likely won’t have any symptoms of hypertension, so you may not be too concerned. However, in the long run hypertension can kill you. Normally your heart beats regularly, pumping blood through the vessels throughout your body. As the blood is pushed by the heartbeat, the blood in turn pushes against the sides of your blood vessels. Blood vessels are flexible and can widen or constrict as needed to keep blood flowing well. For a variety of reasons, your blood may begin to push too hard against the blood vessels. This is hypertension. Hypertension can lead to damage of your blood vessels, heart, kidneys and other organs in your body. Cardiovascular disease (diseases of the heart and circulatory system) is one of the main causes of premature death in the UK. Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the UK and the greatest cause of disability in adults. The scary thing about hypertension is that you may have it without even knowing it. That’s why doctors often call hypertension the ‘silent killer’. Health care professionals agree: hypertension is a big deal.

Preventing it

Perhaps you have relatives with hypertension. Maybe you’re one of a group of people who are at greater risk. For these or other reasons, you may be tempted to think that there’s nothing you can do about hypertension.

Here is some good news about hypertension: even if you have many risk factors, there are steps you can take to prevent this condition:

• Keep your weight at a healthy level: you can achieve this by a combination of healthy eating and regular exercise.

• Eat a healthy diet: this includes eating only the amount of food your body needs and choosing foods high in nutrients and low in fat, sugar and salt.

• Limit how much salt you eat: just avoiding adding salt to your meal plate or when cooking, and limiting how much processed foods you consume can make a huge difference.

• Limit how much alcohol you drink.Smoking

• Don’t smoke tobacco: and minimise your exposure to second-hand smoke (passive smoking).

• Get regular exercise: try to get at least 30 minutes of activity each day. Exercise relieves stress and helps you control your weight.

• Don’t let stress build up: the chemicals your body makes in response to stress make your heart beat harder and faster and your blood vessels tighten. All this makes blood pressure higher.

Ask your doctor for suggestions about hypertension and how to prevent it.

Blood pressure

What do the Top Numbers and Bottom Numbers mean

You may notice that when your doctor measures your blood pressure, the reading includes two numbers, one written on top of the other. These numbers can be confusing.

The top number is called your systolic blood pressure. This number represents the force of blood through your blood vessels during your heartbeat.

• 120 or below is normal or ideal systolic blood pressure

• 120-139 is normal but higher than is ideal

• 140 and greater is hypertension

The bottom number is called your diastolic blood pressure. This number represents the force of blood through your blood vessels in between heartbeats, while your heart is resting.

• 80 or below is normal or ideal diastolic blood pressure

• 80-89 is normal but higher than is ideal

• 90 and greater is hypertension

Many people pay more attention to the systolic reading than the diastolic, but experts say that the heart can tolerate a high top (systolic) number better than a high bottom (diastolic) number.

Blood pressure does change throughout the day, depending on your activities. Blood pressure also changes over time. Systolic blood pressure tends to rise as you get older. Diastolic blood pressure may decrease as you get older.

If either of your blood pressure readings is consistently above normal, then you need to take action right away. You and your doctor can develop a plan to treat hypertension or even pre-hypertension before damage to your organs occurs.

Help for Hypertension

Give up your favourite foods. Take medication with annoying side-effects. These are some things you might fear when you think about hypertension treatment. It is true that it may take some time to develop a treatment plan that works best for you, because hypertension can sometimes have a specific underlying cause. In most cases, however, a specific cause of hypertension may not be evident.

Your doctor will work closely with you to determine which combination of treatments works to best control hypertension. Your Healthy foodtreatment plan is likely to include the following elements:

Healthy eating: For example the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (Dash) includes eating less fat and saturated fat as well as eating more fresh fruits and vegetables and whole-grain foods. Limiting use of salt and alcohol can also help lower your blood pressure.

Weight control: being overweight increases your risk of developing hypertension. Following a healthy diet and getting regular exercise can help you lose weight. Ask your doctor to help you determine a goal.

Check your blood pressure as often as recommended by your doctor.

• Follow your treatment plan consistently. Let your doctor know right away if you have problems with parts of the plan.

• See your doctor as often as requested.

• Ask your doctor or pharmacist for information about medication side effects. Know when to seek medical advice if there is a problem.

Learning about hypertension and how it can harm your health is the first step in controlling this condition – so you have the best chance of remaining healthy for years to come.

No smoking: tobacco smoke can make blood pressure rise. It can also directly damage your heart and blood vessels. Talk to your doctor about ways to stop.

Medication: your doctor is likely to prescribe Medicationmedication to control your hypertension. It’s common to take more than one medication to treat hypertension. Your doctor may ask you to switch medications or change the dosage until you find a combination that works best to control hypertension with the fewest side effects for you. Medications used to treat hypertension include:

• Diuretics to reduce the amount of fluid in your blood by helping your body rid itself of extra sodium.

• ACE inhibitors, alpha-blockers and calcium channel blockers to help keep your blood vessels from tightening.

• Beta-blockers to make the heart beat slower and with less force so that blood pressure drops.

Treatment

In fact, work with your doctor to develop a programme for managing your hypertension.

Check your blood pressure as often as recommended by your doctor.

FOLLOW THESE STEPS

• Follow your treatment plan consistently. Let your doctor know right away if you have problems with parts of the plan.

• See your doctor as often as requested.

• Ask your doctor or pharmacist for information about medication side effects. Know when to seek medical advice if there is a problem.

Learning about hypertension and how it can harm your health is the first step in controlling this condition – so you have the best chance of remaining healthy for years to come.

Editor’s Note

“The opinions, advice or proposals within the article are purely those of the author and do not, in any way, represent those of Cyprusscene.com”