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High blood pressure - what to ask your doctor

Definition

When your heart pumps blood into your arteries, the pressure of the blood against the artery walls is called your blood pressure. Your blood pressure is given as two numbers: systolic over diastolic blood pressure. Your systolic blood pressure is the highest blood pressure during the course of your heart beat cycle. Your diastolic blood pressure is the lowest pressure.

When your blood pressure gets too high, it puts extra stress on your heart and blood vessels. If your blood pressure stays high all the time, you will be at a higher risk for heart attacks, strokes, kidney disease, and other health problems.

Blood pressure

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Blood pressure

Below are some questions you may want to ask your doctor or nurse to help you take care of your blood pressure.

Alternate Names

What to ask your doctor about high blood pressure; Hypertension - what to ask your doctor

Questions

How can I change the way I live to lower my blood pressure?

  • What is a heart-healthy diet? Is it okay to ever eat something that is not heart healthy? What are some ways to eat healthy when I go to a restaurant?
  • Do I need to limit how much salt I use? Are there other spices that I can use to make my food taste good?
  • Is it okay to drink alcohol? How much is okay?
  • What can I do to stop smoking? Is it okay to be around other people who are smoking?

Should I check my blood pressure at home?

  • What type of equipment should I buy? Where can I learn how to use it?
  • How often do I need to check my blood pressure? Should I write it down and bring it to my next visit?
  • If I cannot check my own blood pressure, where else can I have it checked?
  • What should my blood pressure reading be?
  • When should I call my doctor or nurse?

What is my cholesterol? Do I need to take medicines for it?

Is it okay to be sexually active? Is it safe to use sildenafil (Viagra), vardenafil (Levitra), or tadalafil (Cialis) for erection problems?

What medicines am I taking to treat high blood pressure?

  • Do they have any side effects? What should I do if I miss a dose?
  • Is it ever safe to stop taking any of these medicines on my own?

How much activity can I do?

  • Do I need to have a stress test before I exercise?
  • Is it safe for me to exercise on my own?
  • Should I exercise inside or outside?
  • Which activities should I start with? Are there activities or exercises that are not safe for me?
  • How long and how hard can I exercise?
  • What are the warning signs that I should stop exercising?

Review Date: 2/10/2013
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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