The recent Covid-19 pandemic has undoubtedly changed the face of our healthcare system. Normally, a patient with non-communicable diseases (NCD) such as diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure (BP) or hypertension would have regular follow-up and be given appropriate appointments at a nearby health facility for monitoring.
However, due to recent development, many patients' appointment have been postponed. The aim of the postponement, or to allow just brief visits to top-up medication, is aimed at limiting the exposure of high-risk patients to Covid-19 at healthcare facilities.
There is so far no evidence of hypertension and its association with increased risk of contracting Covid-19. However, having the disease, especially if not controlled, poses a threat. This has been proven true due to increased heart toxicity.
Hence, controlling the blood pressure is essential. One of the many challenges would be having access to routine healthcare treatment that one needs, especially during the Movement Control Order (MCO).
Taking control of your blood pressure (BP) at home is not difficult. It just needs a little discipline and some knowledge of the condition. Normal blood pressure is around 120/70mmHg, and to be diagnosed with hypertension, blood pressure needs to be 140/90mmHg or higher on repeated measurements at least on two separate occasions.
The target BP for someone diagnosed with hypertension is generally below 140/90mmHg. Blood pressure monitoring can be done at home. Electronic blood pressure machines are affordable and relatively easy to use and store.
When measuring the blood pressure, be sure that the measurement is taken in a quiet room and the person is seated for at least one minute. The back should be supported (sitting on a chair with a back) and arms should be on the table. It is also important that none of the following activities-- smoking, taking caffeine, eating or exercising-- are done 30 minutes before taking blood pressure. Legs should be uncrossed and there should be no talking during measurement. The timing should ideally be around the same time each day, once in the morning before taking medication and breakfast, and once at night before meals.
Two readings should be taken each time, one minute apart. The readings should be stored in a log or in the machine's own memory for the physician review. Ideally, this should be done accurately especially one week before your appointment.
At home the target levels are a bit lower than in the clinic. Normally, the target at home would be below 135/85mmHg.
Blood pressure may also be monitored from time to time to monitor the BP control, perhaps once ot twice a week. If the BP level is higher than the predetermined target, this means the blood pressure control is not optimal and this increases the risk of heart attack or stroke.
What is most worrying is when the blood pressure is 180/90mmHg or higher. This is termed uncontrolled severe hypertension. If there are symptoms such as chest pain, difficulty in breathing or altered consciousness, help from a healthcare provider should be sought immediately. If these symptoms are absent and reading is at this level, a repeat measurement should be done in 5 minutes. If the reading is the same or higher, head to a healthcare facility immediately.
If there are chest pain, difficulty in breathing or altered consciousness, medical help should be sought immediately, regardless of the BP.
There are many methods to control BP. The most important method is adhering to follow-up and medication, and leading a healthy lifestyle.
Self-monitoring your blood pressure will motivate one to keep the BP in control and also assist doctors in deciding on treatment.
What is important is having a good quality of life and it may be achieved by taking good control of one's health.
DR. ANEESA ABDUL RASHID AND DR. NAVIN KUMAR DEVARAJ
DEPARTMENT OF FAMILY MEDICINE
FACULTY OF MEDICINE AND HEALTH SCIENCES
UNIVERSITI PUTRA MALAYSIA
Date of Input: 06/02/2021 | Updated: 06/02/2021 | sazlina
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