Ignoring high blood pressure can be deadly

Family practice provider J.D. Eiman, PA-C shares insight about high blood pressure and why it’s something you shouldn’t ignore: 

Blood pressure is an important measurement of health.  When the pressure reading is high, it is given the medical term “hypertension.” Hypertension has few symptoms unless extremely high and so that is why it is routinely checked for at a medical office. It is important to diagnose it early, for better health outcomes.

Many people do not realize that uncontrolled high blood pressure is an important risk factor for a heart attack or stroke (think brain attack). So in other words, the two most important organs in your body – your heart and brain are at risk for the most damage. While many people either live or die with a heart attack, with a stroke there are many levels of disability that occur with damage to the brain. Strokes can leave a person paralyzed, unable to communicate or with difficulty swallowing to name just a few. How terrible to think that these outcomes can be avoided with a little medication to control blood pressure!

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There are many different things that can impact your blood pressure that vary from person to person:  older age, race, being overweight, family history, too much salt in your diet, drinking too much alcohol, not getting enough exercise, having diabetes or high cholesterol, and even having low Vitamin D.

There are over 50 different medications and more combinations of those drugs, giving medical providers a multitude of ways to counteract all the different causes of elevated pressure. Sometimes it takes some experimentation to find the right combination for an individual patient, but it is worth the work. If you are diagnosed with hypertension, remember to take your medication and monitor your pressure at home, to help your medical team providing your care.

Next time you see a free blood pressure machine, sit down and see how you are doing. And always ask when you are in the clinic what your results are, so that you can be heart and brain healthy. Remember, as medical professionals, we are here to help, but your health is up to you!

Eiman

J.D. Eiman, PA-C is a physicians assistant at the OCH of Gravette Clinic. J.D. sees patients of all ages for primary care needs and is also certified to perform DOT physicals. She received her education and training from Texas A&M University and Harding University and is currently a member of the American Academy of Physician Assistants, Arkansas Association of Physician Assistants, Christian Medical and Dental Association/Fellowship of Christian Physician Assistants and the California Association of Physician Assistants. To contact J.D. at the clinic, call (479) 787-5221.

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The good and bad of cholesterol

Cholesterol is often negatively portrayed in eyes of the public, but it’s not all bad! Everyone needs cholesterol to live; and it is both good and necessary, in the right quantity, much like everything else in our bodies.

Cholesterol is important for brain and nerve function and is the building block of all our hormones, such as testosterone and estrogen. However, cholesterol does have a downside. Because it is a waxy substance, it can build up in blood vessels and cause lots of problems with heart, brain and arteries. This can lead to high blood pressure and even erectile dysfunction.

Here’s what you need to know about testing and risk factors to help maintain a healthy level cholesterol:

Although healthcare providers test for cholesterol levels if patients have high blood pressure or issues with their heart, it is recommended that individuals start testing cholesterol levels between the ages of 25 to 35 years (for men) and ages 35 to 45 years (for females).

Testing is usually done first thing in the morning, prior to an 8 hour period without eating, or “fasting lipid panel.” Tests measure total cholesterol, triglycerides, low-density lipids and high-density lipids. Here are a few ideal measurements:

  • Total cholesterol should be below 200.
  • Triglycerides should be less than 150.
  • Low density lipids (LDL) are known as “lousy” lipids and should be low. High density lipids (HDL) are “happy” lipids and are beneficial when they are up. Note: HDL’s help clean up when there is excess cholesterol in the blood, which is why the ratio of HDL to LDL is a predictor of good health.

Testing is recommended if an individual has a family member with high cholesterol or heart problems. Also, men and women who smoke and/or have diabetes have an increased likelihood of having high lipids and should be routinely tested. Each individual is different and may require additional testing every 3, 5 or 10 years.

Although individuals may not be able to eat their way to a perfect cholesterol score; there are select cholesterol lowering foods that can help! These include walnuts and almonds (raw and unsalted), strawberries, apples, bananas, grapefruit, carrots, dried beans, garlic, cold-water fish, salmon and olive oil. Foods to keep to a minimum include: coffee, meats, dairy, fried foods and fast-food. Exercise also helps keep the body and cholesterol levels under control.

As always, talk to your individual healthcare provider about risk factors and testing.

EimanJ.D. Eiman, PA-C is a physician assistant at the OCH of Gravette Clinic. J.D. sees patients of all ages for primary care needs and is also certified to perform DOT physicals. She received her education and training from Texas A&M University and Harding University and is currently a member of the American Academy of Physician Assistants, Arkansas Association of Physician Assistants, Christian Medical and Dental Association/Fellowship of Christian Physician Assistants and the California Association of Physician Assistants. To contact J.D. at the clinic, call (479) 787-5221.