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How a definitive diagnosis can help effectively treat hypertension

Hypertension is a specific condition where blood pressure is consistently higher than normal. It affects over 7.2 million Canadians, and many don’t realize they have it because it has so few signs or symptoms. You may want to consider talking to your health care provider about hypertension if:

    You have a family history of high blood pressure
   Symptoms such as:
o    Severe headaches
o    Nosebleed
o    Fatigue or confusion
o    Vision problems
o    Chest pain
o    Difficulty breathing
o    Irregular heartbeat

What exactly is hypertension?

Hypertension is the term used by doctors to describe high blood pressure, but hypertension is really a specific condition in which blood pressure is consistently higher than normal. Blood pressure is the force against your blood vessels as blood is pumped from your heart throughout your body and high blood pressure, or more specifically hypertension, occurs when there is too much pressure in your blood vessels. Over time this can damage your blood vessels and cause health problems, and although it is more common as you get older, even young people can develop high blood pressure. Undiagnosed and untreated hypertension can lead to heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, dementia, and diabetes.

The importance of measuring hypertension

If you and/or your health care provider is concerned about your elevated blood pressure, your doctor may order a few different tests to monitor it to ensure it is kept under control. By regularly monitoring your blood pressure, you can work with your health care provider to determine effective treatments and make lifestyle adjustments as needed. 

What is ABPM?

One of the ways to effectively measure and manage hypertension is through 24-hour blood pressure monitoring, also called ‘ambulatory’ blood pressure monitoring (ABPM). As the name indicates, blood pressure is measured over approximately 24 hours to provide a more complete picture of your blood pressure. Patients wear a device that records their blood pressure on a continuous basis, even as they sleep. The ongoing data, which provides a more reliable measurement than one-off readings, helps your doctor get a more accurate picture of your blood pressure numbers.

To learn more about ABPM, download LifeLabs’ patient brochure by clicking here if you live in Ontario or by clicking here if you live in BC.

On top of ABPM, your doctor may also order these other tests to investigate whether you have hypertension:

  1. Urinalysis
  2. Blood chemistry
  3. Fasting blood sugar
  4. Cholesterol measures
  5. Electrocardiogram (ECG)

Talk to your doctor to find out if ABPM is right for you

Your doctor is the best person to speak to about your risk of developing hypertension, and whether ABPM can help. They may order ABPM if:

  • They are unable to obtain an accurate blood pressure reading in their office (e.g. fluctuating reading, episodic, or white-coat hypertension)
  • They suspect drug-resistant hypertension
  • You have hypotensive symptoms with antihypertensive therapy
  • You are exhibiting autonomic dysfunction

Having a conversation about hypertension with your doctor is key to arriving at the most appropriate recommendation based on your unique health care journey.

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