Take your hypertension meds daily, doc advisesSunday, March 21, 2021
A family physician is advising people with hypertension to adhere to their daily medication regimen, irrespective of whether their blood pressure readings indicate that the condition is under control.
Dr Pauline Williams Green, who was speaking last Tuesday at a National Health Fund (NHF) Family Forum on managing hypertension, explained that it is important to understand that hypertension is a sustained elevation of systematic blood pressure.
“When you check your blood pressure it may be high one day, normal on another day, or even low. It may go up when you are sleeping or when you are quite unaware, so you cannot depend on when you check your blood pressure. You need to take your tablets every day as there is no cure for hypertension, so we have to control it to normal levels,” she said.
She added that when a person's blood pressure is not lowered at nights, the condition is called non-dipper hypertension.
“Usually when we go to sleep at nights the blood pressure drops but for some of us it doesn't go down — it actually rises; and it is very dangerous because it can be associated with strokes and heart attacks,” she said.
According to the physician, one in three Jamaicans is hypertensive. While she was unaware of any reports indicating an increase in the rate of hypertension since the onset of the novel coronavirus, Dr Williams Green noted that it is a comorbidity that increases the risk of becoming severely ill from COVID-19.
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a noncommunicable disease. While the normal range for an individual's blood pressure is 120/80mmHg (120/80 millimetres of mercury) or lower, high blood pressure is equal to or in excess of 140/90mmHg.
She explained that with ambulatory blood pressure monitoring, which is a non-invasive method, a person's blood pressure readings can be obtained over a 24-hour period, including while at home.
Admitting there is no specific drug that is a panacea for everyone, the physician recommended amlodipine — an effective calcium channel blocker for hypertension.
“It is highly recommended for persons of African descent. It is one of our first-line drugs which is very effective for both men and women, and it is sometimes used for pregnant women. Majority of persons who have hypertension are well controlled with amlodipine,” she said.
In the meantime, noting that there are no signs or symptoms of hypertension, Dr Williams Green said a healthy diet can aid in its management.
“Only a few persons can control their pressure but there are other factors. If persons are overweight or obese it might mean not only healthy eating, but healthy eating to lose weight. If you lose at least 10 kg of weight, you may lose between 5-20mmhg of mercury to lower the blood pressure,” she said.
She said a healthy diet should include foods low in salt, brown rice, whole wheat bread, small amounts of animal foods, and daily servings of two fruits and three vegetables.
Dr Williams Green also warned that hypertension should not be ignored, as it can lead to serious health issues which could eventually cause death.
“Cardiovascular diseases are responsible for 60-70 per cent of our deaths each year. We are finding out that it is established on high blood pressure and diabetes. High blood pressure results in damage to blood vessels and to major organs such as our heart, kidneys and brain. It directly affects the heart, causing it not to work properly,” she said.
Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at https://bit.ly/epaper-login