Associates of Kentuckiana, PSC provides care for all aspects of the prevention and
treatment of kidney disease. Hypertension or High Blood Pressure is
often associated with kidney disease. High Blood Pressure occurs when
blood vessels become narrow or stiff, forcing the heart to pump harder
to push blood through the body.
Blood pressure is measured as two numbers, an upper number (called the
systolic pressure) and a bottom number (called the diastolic
pressure). For adults, 18 and over, blood pressures that stay at
140/90 or higher are considered high, but target blood pressures may
vary according to factors that can include associated diseases and
FAQ about Hypertension
How often should
blood pressure be checked?
Blood pressure should be checked at least once a
year unless it is too high or too low. In that case, blood pressure
should be checked as often as the doctor advises. [TOP]
What causes high blood
High blood pressure affects an
estimated 50 million Americans. In most cases, the causes of high
blood pressure are not known, but some things may increase the risk of
developing high blood pressure. These include:
Heredity: High blood pressure
tends to run in families.
Race: African Americans have
high blood pressure more often and more severely than whites.
Age: The tendency to develop
high blood pressure increases as you age.
Obesity: People who are
overweight have a greater chance of developing high blood pressure.
Lack of exercise: An inactive
lifestyle may contribute to being overweight, which is a risk factor
for high blood pressure.
Alcohol use: Drinking excessive
amounts of alcohol can increase blood pressure.
Too much dietary salt: Heavy use
of salt can increase blood pressure.
Oral contraceptives: Women who
take the pill have an increased chance of developing high blood
pressure especially if they are also smokers.
Gender: Until age 45, high blood
pressure is more common in men than women. Between ages 45 and 54 the
risk is similar. After age 54, more women than men will have high
Other Diseases: Having chronic
kidney disease makes you more likely to develop high blood pressure.
How do you know if you or someone in your family has high blood
High blood pressure often causes no symptoms, even if severe. It is
possible to have high blood pressure for years without knowing it.
That is why it is called a silent killer. The only way to find out if
blood pressure is too high is to have it measured.
Is high blood pressure a serious problem?
Uncontrolled high blood pressure is a serious problem because it can
damage many organs in the body. It adds to the workload of the heart,
which over time can cause the heart to enlarge and become weaker.
Uncontrolled high blood pressure increases the risk of strokes, and it
can also damage the kidneys. Careful control of high blood pressure
lowers the risk of developing these complications. That is why it is
so important for your family member to follow the doctor's advice
concerning treatment and to take all the medicines prescribed. [TOP]
Can lifestyle changes help to control high blood pressure?
If mild, high blood pressure may sometimes be brought under control by
losing weight if your family member is overweight, cutting down on fat
and salt in the diet, starting a regular exercise program approved by
the doctor, and limiting alcohol intake to no more than two drinks a
day for men and one drink a day for woman. Medicines may also be
needed to get high blood pressure under control. Many effective
medicines are available for the treatment of high blood pressure.
Sometimes, a combination of different medicines may be needed. These
medicines should be taken as ordered by the doctor, even if your
family member is feeling fine, because high blood pressure is just as
damaging even when it causes no symptoms. [TOP]
treatment is best for high blood pressure?
The doctor will talk to you about
the best treatment for your family member who has high blood pressure.
This treatment will be based on the results of the patient's tests,
physical examination and individual needs.
Should the whole family make lifestyle changes because one person has
high blood pressure?
Many of the lifestyle changes advised for people with high blood
pressure, such as following a healthier diet and starting an exercise
program, are things we all should do as part of a healthy lifestyle.
These changes can benefit the whole family. [TOP]
Can diet help
to control high blood pressure?
Reducing the amount of fat and
salt can lower the risk of many diseases and also be an important part
of the treatment for high blood pressure. Fixing healthful meals for
the whole family will save wear and tear on the cook who will not have
to make separate foods for your family member with high blood
pressure. It will also make it easier for him or her to follow the
diet by eliminating some of the temptation to return to old habits.
The family member who does the meal planning and cooking should visit
the dietitian along with the patient. Both can learn about the best
foods to use and other helpful ideas to make following the diet
easier. The doctor can provide a referral to a registered dietitian,
who will offer suggestions about eating the right foods in the right
amounts to help control high blood pressure. The services of a
registered dietitian may be covered by some health insurance policies.
exercise help to control high blood pressure?
The benefits of exercise include
feeling and looking better, reducing stress and having better overall
health. Families can exercise together and enjoy these activities as
part of their free time together. They can walk, swim, or ride a
bicycle regardless of age or differing abilities. Joining a gym,
bowling league or a softball team are other good ideas. [TOP]
How does stopping smoking
People who have high blood
pressure, and smoke increase their risk of having complications such
as heart attacks and strokes. Stopping smoking can be hard to do,
especially if others in the family continue to smoke. Family members
should consider stopping smoking together and using the money usually
spent on cigarettes to buy something they can enjoy together. At
today's high cigarette prices, it would not take long to save enough
money for a bicycle, for example. [TOP]
What if our family member who has high blood pressure does not take
the prescribed medicines?
Families can be supportive, but
the responsibility for taking medicines rests with the patient.
Sometimes, patients may have difficulty remembering whether they took
the medicines or not. Special pill boxes are available that have small
compartments labeled with the days of the week, as well as times of
the day. These allow your family member to check to make sure the pill
was taken. Watches with alarms and beepers are also helpful.
Some of the main reasons patients give for not taking their medicines
"I don't feel sick, so I really
don't need these pills."
"These pills don't really help.
I don't feel any different now than I did before."
"I feel worse when I take these
pills. They cause headaches, make me feel tired, cause problems with
my sex life. I'm not going to take them anymore."
"I can't pay for these pills.
They cost too much."
the reason, failing to follow the doctor's orders about taking
medicines is dangerous. Blood pressure medicines should never be
stopped abruptly. You should encourage your family member who has high
blood pressure to discuss any questions or concerns about medicines
with the doctor. If there are problems with side effects, the doctor
may be able to prescribe a different medicine that works better for
the patient. [TOP]
Should we avoid anything that might upset our family member who has
high blood pressure?
Usually, continuing with normal
family life is an important part of what the family can do to help the
person who has high blood pressure. Trying to shield the person only
robs them of their usual place in the family. It may be useful to talk
openly as a family about what kind of help the patient finds "helpful"
and what kind of help seems more like "nagging." If there are frequent
disagreements or constant stress in the family, counseling may be
useful. The family's religious leader, a family service agency in the
community, or a private counselor (psychiatrist, psychologist or
social worker) can help family members talk about their concerns and
find new ways to make family life more positive and less stressful.
family members care for themselves?
Sometimes, family members
themselves have many worries about whether they are doing the right
thing when they try to help. They may be angry and frustrated when the
patient refuses to make lifestyle changes or take the prescribed
medicines. They may worry about the future and the chance the patient
may get sicker. Talking about these worries is important. Sometimes,
just getting out of the house and talking it over with a friend is all
that is needed to feel better. If these worries continue or have a
negative effect on other parts of life (a job or school, for example),
it may be important to talk with a professional counselor. Remember,
it is natural to be worried about a family member who has a health
problem. By talking about these worries and concerns, family members
may be more able to be supportive and helpful to the person who has
high blood pressure. [TOP]
Is high blood pressure hereditary? Are other family members likely to
The exact causes of high blood
pressure are usually not known. However, there is evidence that high
blood pressure tends to run in families. Therefore, other family
members should have their blood pressure checked at least once a year
high blood pressure likely to cause other problems?
If high blood pressure is not
well controlled, other problems may develop such as heart attacks,
strokes or kidney disease. It is important to encourage the person who
has high blood pressure to see the doctor regularly so these problems
can be prevented. Family members should be aware of the following
Heart attack: pain and/or
pressure in the chest, which may spread to shoulders, arms or neck;
feeling faint; shortness of breath; feeling sick to the stomach and
Stroke: sudden weakness or
numbness of the face, arm or leg on one side of the body; sudden loss
of vision especially in one eye; difficulty talking or understanding
speech; sudden severe headaches; dizziness, unsteadiness or sudden
Kidney disease: pain in the
lower back, swelling of hands and feet, increased need to urinate,
burning or discomfort when urinating and blood in the urine [TOP]
How is high blood
If mild, high blood pressure may
sometimes be brought under control by making changes to a healthier
lifestyle such as losing excess weight , cutting down on fat and salt
in your diet, limiting your alcohol intake to no more than two drinks
a day for men and one drink a day for woman, and starting a regular
exercise program approved by your doctor. However, medicines may also
be needed to get your pressure under control. Many effective medicines
are available to treat high blood pressure. Sometimes, a combination
of different medicines may be needed. These medicines should be taken
as ordered by your doctor, even if you are feeling fine, because high
blood pressure is just as damaging even when it causes no symptoms. If
you are a smoker, your doctor will advise you to stop. Smoking
increases your risk of complications such as heart attacks or strokes.
How do I know
what treatment is best for me?
Ask your doctor about the best
treatment for you. Your treatment will be based on the results of your
tests and physical examination and on your individual needs. [TOP]
medicine causes side effects. What should I do?
You should report any side
effects, such as headaches, dizziness, tiredness, palpitations, ankle
swelling, problems with your sex life, etc., to your doctor. The
doctor may be able to change the dose of your medicine or order
another medicine that may work better for you. [TOP]
Will I need to follow a
If you are overweight, your
doctor may want you to lose weight. Also, most doctors recommend a
diet that is low in fat and salt as part of the treatment for patients
with high blood pressure. Spices and herbs can be used instead of salt
to add flavor to food. Other dietary changes that might help include:
eating more foods that have
calcium, such as low-fat dairy products
eating more foods that have
potassium, such as bananas, oranges, potatoes, tomatoes and greens.
Your doctor can
refer you to a registered dietitian who will help you learn more about
eating the right foods in the right amounts to help control your blood
pressure. If you have kidney disease or diabetes you should not make
changes in their diet without speaking to your doctor. [TOP]
else should I do to help control my blood pressure?
You can help yourself by doing
have regular medical checkups
take all your medicines
follow your doctor's
recommendations about diet and exercise
stop smoking, if you are a
avoid drinking more than one
ounce of alcohol a day
get your whole family involved
in your care plan
to talk to your doctor or to the health care team at your clinic if
you have any questions or problems.
If you cooperate with your treatment plan, you can keep your blood
pressure controlled and help to prevent serious complication. [TOP]
Additional resources from National Kidney Association