Issue of May 13, 2018
     
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Hypertension Awareness Month

May is Hypertension Awareness Month in the Philippines. Several information, education, and communication campaigns are done for the control of hypertension and prevention of its complications because its prevalence is high and complications can be prevented.

Latest medical guidelines state that doctors treat the disease gradually to maintain blood pressure levels below 130/80 mm Hg. Based on studies, the risk of complications among chronic hypertensive individuals is lower if blood pressure is maintained below this level.

The following are the frequently asked questions on hypertension and their answers:

1. My blood pressure is always high but I do not feel anything. Do I need to take a medication?

Yes, because the elevated blood pressure silently damages the fine and delicate blood vessels – the capillaries – found in these major organs: the heart, brain, eyes, and kidneys.

2. My blood pressure is now within normal. Can I stop my medication/s?

Anti-hypertensive medicines should be maintained. Consult your doctor so that the number of drugs you use or the dose may be reduced.

3. I do not like to take medicines. Can I just take garlic and herbal medicine to treat my high blood pressure?

There are no large-scale trials to support sole use of garlic or herbal medicine in the control of hypertension.

4. Can I just stop my medicine anytime?

No. Seek medical advice before suddenly stopping the medicine. Drugs like clonidine and beta-blockers cause rebound hypertension or sudden rise in blood pressure if stopped abruptly.

5. Are all medications for blood pressure the same?

No. Your doctor will determine what is best for you. He will consider your other ailments. For example, beta-blockers are generally not recommended among hypertensives with bronchial asthma or diabetes mellitus. Drugs that cause increase in heart rate or sudden drop in blood pressure are not recommended among patients with history of heart disease.

6. Can I self-medicate?

No. Your doctor should be the one to determine the most appropriate drug for you based on your age, gender, other ailments, and other medications.

7. Can I just combine drugs on my own?

No. A doctor still knows what is best and what is safe for you. Drugs that slow down the heart rate cannot be combined together.

8. What are the causes of elevated blood pressure?

It could be primary (unknown) or secondary (example due to vascular, adrenal, or kidney or kidney disease). The cause has to be established first before treatment is initiated. Drugs called angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors and angiotensin two receptor blockers, which are commonly used for hypertension, may not be used if renal artery stenosis (constriction/ blockade of a main artery of the kidney) is not excluded as cause of the hypertension. Use of these drugs can cause the kidneys to malfunction.

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Medical questions or concerns may be emailed to baguiomidlandcourie@yahoo.com or yourmedicalcorner@yahoo.com. Answers will be emailed directly or will be provided through the column.

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