Almost every doctor’s visit begins by pulling up your sleeve andfeeling a constricting cuff tighten around your bicep, for good reason.
“High blood pressure [or hypertension] is the number one risk factor forstroke and a major risk factor for heart disease,” explains Ev Glasser, managerof Health Education for the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Alberta, North-west Territories and Nunavut. It is a major risk factor for heart and kidneyfailure, as well. And, while it affects one in five Canadians, it has no warning signs or symptoms.
The good news is high blood pressure can be detected. “You have to haveit tested in order to know whether you’ve got high blood pressure,” saysGlasser. “But, once you know, it can be controlled through a combination oflifestyle and medication.” With proper diagnosis and treatment, the Heartand Stroke Foundation says your chances of suffering a stroke due to highblood pressure can be cut by up to 40 percent.
The first step to controlling high blood pressure is knowing if you haveit. Many people only see their doctors and find out they have hypertensionwhen other symptoms arise (such as diabetes, blocked arteries and irregular heartbeat) — by that time, organ damage may have already started. Itis recommended you have your blood pressure checked at least once everytwo years, or as your doctor suggests. “There are people who should havetheir blood pressure checked more frequently,” explains Glasser, “includingsomeone who has other risk factors, such as diabetes.” At-home systems andself-check systems in many pharmacies and drug stores allow you to keep aneye on your blood pressure between doctor visits. — Abby;Miller