High Blood Pressure and the Holidays!

Mother-in-law coming in for Christmas….ornery uncle here for the holidays? The holidays are a time of year when blood pressure can become an issue. However, it’s not just special occasions when we realize that our blood pressure should be checked. At least once a month I have a patient who comes in for their regular check up and cleaning and for the first time realizes that they have high blood pressure. This condition is so easy to overlook with little or no symptoms.

Did you know?

  1. High blood pressure usually has no symptoms. In fact, many people have high blood pressure for years without knowing it. That’s why it’s called the “silent killer.”
  2. Hypertension is the medical term for high blood pressure. It doesn’t refer to being tense, nervous or hyperactive. You can be a calm, relaxed person and still have high blood pressure.
  3. It is estimated that over 25% of Americans have high blood pressure.
  4. Hypertension alone is the most important risk factor for heart failure. It is the leading cause of strokes, kidney failure and blindness. In fact, having high blood pressure increases stroke risk four to six times!

The medical community, as a whole, is trying to catch High Blood pressure before it hurts our patients. Few people have time for a once-a-year physical examination. And if you are not sick with a common cold or flu during the year, your blood pressure most likely does not get checked. This is where dentists and hygienists can play a key role in screening our patients at least twice a year. Many of my patients have discovered they have high blood pressure during a regular 6 month cleaning visit to my office. This screening has led to subsequent doctor’s appointments and preventative medication.

Optimal blood pressure with respect to cardiovascular risk is less than 120/80 mm Hg. The American Dental Association recommends that any patient with a reading of 180/110 or higher be restricted from even urgent treatment without medial consultation. Elective treatment should certainly be avoided.

The cause of 90–95 percent of the cases of high blood pressure isn’t known; however, the good news is that high blood pressure is easily detected and usually controllable. So make sure you are getting your blood pressure checked at least twice a year either during your regular dental cleanings or with your primary care physician.

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