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High Blood Pressure

The incidence of high blood pressure is increasing in the U.S. and could lead to more heart disease and strokes in Americans in the coming years.

Nearly one third of adults in the U.S. have high blood pressure according to the American Heart Association.   High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is associated with many complications including stroke, heart disease, diabetes and kidney disease.  Dr. Gary Rull, associate professor of internal medicine at SIU School of Medicine in Springfield, says usually there are no symptoms.

SOUND BITE:  “Most patients with high blood pressure do not have any symptoms. And that’s the reason it is not diagnosed in a lot of patients because they don’t present to their physician’s offices to have it evaluated or screened for.  However, if the blood pressure is acutely elevated, it can cause symptoms such as headache, chest pain, which can portend a medical diagnosis that is being caused by the high blood pressure.”

Dr. Rull says a normal blood pressure reading is 120 over 80, but will vary depending on an individual’s health conditions.   After receiving a diagnosis of high blood pressure from a physician, it needs to be monitored very closely at home or a physician’s office.  He offers advice of home monitoring.

SOUND BITE:  “Ideally home monitoring should be done approximately the same time each day and should not be done right after eating a meal or exercising.  I always tell patients it is a good idea to bring the machine into the doctor’s office to check accuracy and also so the doctor can make sure the patient is using the machine appropriately.”

Dr. Rull recommends that people who have high blood pressure make lifestyle changes, including eating a healthy diet with fruits and vegetables, reducing salt intake and managing one’s weight.  They should see their primary care physician for evaluation and possible treatment.

This is Ruth Slottag at SIU School of Medicine in Springfield.