Myths and Facts about High Blood Pressure
05 Sep 2018
Dr Chew Chun Yang, family physician at Parkway Shenton, dispels some common myths surrounding high blood pressure.
1. I’m OK with a blood pressure reading of 130/80 mmHg
High blood pressure (hypertension) is high pressure in the arteries carrying blood from the heart to the rest of the body. In 2017, the American College of Cardiology released new guidelines for high blood pressure, revising the threshold downwards. Now, normal blood pressure is below 120/80 while readings at 130/80 or above are considered high. Complications of high blood pressure include heart disease, kidney disease, hardening of the arteries, eye damage and stroke
2. I can tell if I have high blood pressure without being tested
This is not true. Neglecting regular blood pressure checks is not a wise move as we may not be aware we have high blood pressure because we won’t always experience symptoms or signs of having the disease. You may feel perfectly fine even if your blood pressure is alarmingly high. Often, high blood pressure is only detected when a patient suffers from its complications like a stroke or a heart attack. For this reason, high blood pressure is also known as ‘the silent killer’.
3. It’s OK to stop my medication when my blood pressure returns to normal
This is a common misconception. Some hypertensive patients stop their taking their medications without consulting their doctor when their blood pressure readings fall within the control target range. However, this is not recommended. Your medication is controlling your blood pressure so when you stop taking it, your blood pressure is likely to rise again if you haven’t addressed the underlying cause. Always discuss the matter with your doctor before deciding to come off your medication, and be aware that high blood pressure can be a lifelong disease that you may have to learn to live with.
4. I can monitor my blood pressure at home with a blood pressure monitor
Yes, this is true. While you still need to be checked regularly by your doctor, taking readings at home can help give the doctor a better picture of your condition. Your blood pressure fluctuates, so taking readings throughout the day helps to provide a comprehensive understanding. It can also help to determine if you have white coat hypertension. A white coat hypertensive is a patient who records elevated blood pressure at the doctor’s clinic but consistently normal blood pressure at home.
5. Taking medication to control my blood pressure causes more harm than good
It is true that medications can come with side effects, but that doesn’t mean that everyone taking it will experience them. Your doctor will monitor the benefits and risks of the medication prescribed and assess its suitability for you over time. There are many different types of medicines used for high blood pressure in the market, and switching to a different one may alleviate your side-effect symptoms while keeping your blood pressure under control. Consult with your doctor to formulate the most suitable treatment plan for you.
Article contributed by Dr Chew Chun Yang, family physician at Parkway Shenton, Serangoon