Almost every doctor’s visit begins by pulling up your sleeve and
feeling a constricting cuff tighten around your bicep, for good reason.
“High blood pressure [or hypertension] is the number one risk factor for
stroke and a major risk factor for heart disease,” explains Ev Glasser, manager
of Health Education for the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Alberta, North-west Territories and Nunavut. It is a major risk factor for heart and kidney
failure, 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 have
it tested in order to know whether you’ve got high blood pressure,” says
Glasser. “But, once you know, it can be controlled through a combination of
lifestyle and medication.” With proper diagnosis and treatment, the Heart
and Stroke Foundation says your chances of suffering a stroke due to high
blood pressure can be cut by up to 40 percent.
The first step to controlling high blood pressure is knowing if you have
it. Many people only see their doctors and find out they have hypertension
when other symptoms arise (such as diabetes, blocked arteries and irregular heartbeat) — by that time, organ damage may have already started. It
is recommended you have your blood pressure checked at least once every
two years, or as your doctor suggests. “There are people who should have
their blood pressure checked more frequently,” explains Glasser, “including
someone who has other risk factors, such as diabetes.” At-home systems and
self-check systems in many pharmacies and drug stores allow you to keep an
eye on your blood pressure between doctor visits. — Abby;Miller