High blood pressure, or high blood pressure, is often called the “silent” disease because it has no noticeable symptoms. If undetected and untreated, high blood pressure can cause heart disease (including congestive heart failure, where the heart doesn't pump well), stroke, circulation problems, and kidney disease. That’s why it’s important to have regular physical examinations to make sure your blood pressure is within the normal range. This is especially true if your blood pressure has ever been high or if you have a family history of high blood pressure, heart disease, or diabetes, or if you have been gaining weight.
If you are being treated for high blood pressure, your doctor can answer any questions or concerns you may have during your regular visits. Ask your doctor how often to check your blood pressure at home.
Here are some general guidelines for calling your doctor
- Call your doctor if you aren’t responding to the treatment your doctor prescribed and your blood pressure is still high; for instance, if you have two to three consecutively high blood pressure readings. In this case, you may need to be evaluated to determine if there are other disorders causing your high blood pressure, such as kidney disease, problems with excess production of certain hormones, blockages in some blood vessels, or an overactive thyroid.
- Call your doctor if you have certain symptoms, including fatigue, nausea, shortness of breath, lightheadedness, headache, excessive sweating, problems with your vision, or confusion. These might also be side effects from your medication. Your doctor might need to adjust the dosage or may want to switch you to another medication.
In addition, while you are being treated for high blood pressure, there are questions you should ask your doctor to be sure you’re receiving the best treatment. These include the following:
- What is my current blood pressure measurement?
- What should my blood pressure be?
- What conditions or situations will increase my blood pressure?
- How much should I weigh? Can you recommend a diet or eating plan to help me reach that weight?
- Can you recommend a registered dietitian for help in reaching my dietary goals?
- What kind of diet should I be following to help control my blood pressure?
- How much exercise should I be doing? What type of activities are recommended?
- What is the name of my blood pressure medication?
- What are the side effects of this medication?
- Should I be taking potassium supplements or increasing the potassium in my diet?
- How can I get help to quit smoking?