According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 75 million or roughly 1 in every 3 U.S. adults have high blood pressure.1 To make matters worse, only about half (54%) of people with high blood pressure have their condition under control putting them at greater risk for a number of potentially life-threatening conditions that include heart attack, stroke, dementia, and kidney failure. There are some widely accepted misconceptions that may be partially to blame for this trend.
Eduardo Cabrera, M.D., Board-Certified Family Medicine doctor at Physicians Regional Medical Group outlines 5 misconceptions about hypertension:
1. No symptoms no problem
There is good reason why hypertension has been dubbed the “silent killer”. Many people don’t know they have it until it’s too late. “High blood pressure can quietly damage your body for years before symptoms develop,” said Dr. Cabrera. “Usually hypertension is diagnosed in a routine office visit, when we notice that the patient’s blood pressure is over 120/80.”
2. It should only concern older people
Although risk increases with age, even children can develop this condition. “High blood pressure in children and adolescents is a growing health problem that is often overlooked by physicians,” explains Dr. Cabrera. “Obesity and being overweight is strongly correlated with primary hypertension, and every day we see younger patients who fit into that category.” Dr. Cabrera adds that certain types of kidney conditions found in some children can be the cause of hypertension.
3. White Coat Hypertension is harmless
White Coat Hypertension (WCH) is characterized by the variability of a patient’s blood pressure measurements between the physician’s office and the patient’s home environment. Someone who usually has normal blood pressure will notice a spike in the reading when they visit the doctor. According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, WCH was associated with a 36% higher risk for cardiovascular events and 33% higher risk for mortality, compared with normotension. However, risks were still lower than those observed in patients with sustained hypertension. White coat effect was not associated with increased risk for either outcome.2 “It is my opinion that patients with WCH should have frequent ambulatory blood pressure readings and start early lifestyle modifications to avoid further cardiovascular problems,” said Dr. Cabrera.
4. High blood pressure runs in my family therefor there is nothing I can do
“Of course you cannot do anything about family history that predisposes you to the disease but you can do a great deal of work in terms of dealing with modifiable causes,” explains Dr. Cabrera. “Having a family history of high blood pressure should be enough to convince people to change their diet and lifestyle to prevent this disease.” He adds that medications are sometimes necessary depending on the severity of the condition and the type of patient.
5. Once I feel better, I don’t have to take medicine or change my lifestyle
“I’ve seen patients that have not taken this condition seriously because they have no symptoms, and then they stop using the medications prescribed to treat it thinking that the problem is cured,” said Dr. Cabrera. “It is very important to closely follow up with these patients to ensure adherence to their medications and life style modifications in order to avoid end organ damage complications.”
Dr. Cabrera’s office is located at Physicians Regional – Pebblebrooke, 15215 Collier Blvd, Naples, FL 34119. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 239-348-4221or schedule online at PhysiciansRegionalMedicalGroup.com.