What You Need To Know and Do To Control Your Blood Pressure: You and Your Doctor Working Together
High Blood Pressure—A Threat to Millions of People
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a health problem for millions of people in the United States. The chance of getting high blood pressure increases as people get older and their bodies change. High blood pressure is common in people who are overweight. People with high blood pressure are more likely to have a heart attack, to have a stroke, or to develop other health problems such as kidney disease. The health problems related to high blood pressure are serious and can cause death.
If you have high blood pressure, you may be seeing your regular doctor or a cardiologist (a heart doctor) to check your blood pressure and monitor your medicines. Many patients think that their heart doctor is better able to help them with their high blood pressure than is their regular doctor. For this reason, research has looked at how well heart doctors treat high blood pressure in their patients.
Heart Doctors and Treatment of High Blood Pressure
In May 2012, scientists at Duke University reported on a study that looked at how heart doctors in one clinic were treating high blood pressure in their patients. The study found that most of the heart doctors were helping their patients understand the importance of controlling weight, eating healthy foods, and getting exercise.
The study also found that taking medicine to help control high blood pressure is important, but one medicine may not be enough to lower blood pressure for some patients. For patients already taking medicine for their high blood pressure, the heart doctor may need to change the amount (dose) or type of medicine the patients are taking. Some patients may even need two to three different medicines to get their blood pressure down to where it should be.
Surprisingly, the study showed that clinic heart doctors were not ordering more medicine for many of their patients whose blood pressure readings were higher than they should be. About one out of every three patients was not getting enough medicine to help lower their blood pressure.
Questions To Ask Your Doctor if You Have High Blood Pressure
Be involved in your health care! Ask your doctor these questions about your blood pressure at your next medical visit:
- What is my blood pressure now?
- Is my blood pressure higher than it should be?
- Do you think it would help me to take more of my current medicine or to switch to a different medicine?
- If I switch to a different medicine, what kind of side effects might I get from the different medicine?
- Is there any way to stop the side effects of the new medicine if I switch to another type of medicine?
- What else can I do to keep my blood pressure down where it should be?
Patient Handouts About High Blood Pressure
These free handouts from CHAIN Online and other trusted Web sites have more information about blood pressure and questions to ask your doctor.
- If you have high blood pressure. (PDF, 256 KB) This CHAIN Online handout has questions to ask your doctor if you have high blood pressure.
- High Blood Pressure — What To Ask Your Doctor, from the MedlinePlus® Web site, a service of the National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health) Web site.
- High Blood Pressure: Frequently Asked Questions, from the NIH SeniorHealth Web site, a service of the National Institutes of Health
- Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Blood Pressure, from the American Heart Association Web site.
- Choosing Medicines for High Blood Pressure: A Review of the Research on ACEIs, ARBs, and DRIs, from the AHRQ Effective Health Care Program Web site.
- Measuring Your Blood Pressure at Home: A Review of the Research for Adults, from the AHRQ Effective Health Care Program Web site.