High blood pressure (hypertension) has little to no symptoms and is often referred to as a silent killer. It can lead to stroke, heart disease, and sudden cardiac arrest. It’s imperative to check your blood pressure regularly. Typically, the systolic blood pressure (top number) rises with age, while the diastolic blood pressure (bottom number) tends to fall. However, any changes in blood pressure that are left untreated can cause severe health conditions to arise. We caught up with Dr. Grinshteyn of Bayfront Health Medical Group to find out more information on the risks associated with hypertension and what individuals can do to help maintain normal blood pressure levels.
Question #1—What are the associated risks of uncontrolled hypertension?
Since there are very few, if any, symptoms of hypertension, many patients don’t know they have high blood pressure. The hard fact is that people with hypertension have a high-risk factor for myocardial infarction (MI), strokes, kidney failure, cognitive disorders, and lesser-known issues like vision problems. Hypertension affects every blood vessel in the body from the tip of the toes to the top of the head. It’s ideal to have a blood pressure range of around 120/80 to 130/80.
Question #2—What steps do you recommend to lower it naturally or with medical intervention?
Years ago, we used to take a paternalistic approach and say, “You need to take medicine!” Today, we know it’s best to offer lifestyle modifications for an overall underpinning approach. Medications are essential in many cases, but their effect will be much more beneficial and efficacious when paired with diet and exercise protocols. Lifestyle changes are critical.
I go beyond blood pressure numbers and check kidney function, order electrocardiograms (ECG/EKG), check thyroid hormones, and other in-depth testing as a first step. These can often contribute to hypertension. Once we establish underlying health conditions, we can discuss what can be done as far as lifestyle changes through diet and exercise. We have a registered dietitian that can offer personalized plans like the DASH or Mediterranean diet. These diets emphasize eating plenty of vegetables, fruit, healthy fats, whole grains, and lean protein (especially cold-water fish) while avoiding excess salt, sugar, simple carbs, and saturated fats. They can also be tailored to fit individual needs.
Exercise is very important to lower and/or stabilize blood pressure. I don’t mean pumping weights like Arnold Schwarzenegger, or bench pressing a car! Exercising 150 minutes per week (30 minutes/5 days) is plenty of activity to improve overall health and hypertension. Here in Florida, many patients have the luxury of swimming. I highly recommend hydrotherapy and suggest being chest-deep in the pool while doing cardio-style movements to increase heart rate. It’s a low impact workout and easier on the joints. Once we have diet and exercise down, medication support will bring down blood pressure that might still be on the high side.
Many people don’t realize that alcohol is a huge contributor to hypertension. Unfortunately, it’s easy to start socializing or drinking with other retirees or friends and quickly have moderate drinking get out of hand. Limiting alcohol or quitting drinking is very beneficial for health in general.
For some patients, we recommend tracking blood pressure at home with an arm cuff. Depending on the numbers, we might have you do that regularly or every few months.
There is a real scenario called “white coat syndrome,” which elevates blood pressure in the doctor’s office due to apprehension. In our office, I’ve just implemented a new device that can track blood pressure in the convenience of the patient’s home-setting for a consecutive 24-hours. It’s a small device that discreetly attaches to the arm to track the fluctuations when living your normal life. It helps us better understand how much pressure or lack thereof is pumping while eating, sleeping, exercising, etc.
We don’t want anyone’s blood pressure to come down too quickly as that can cause a water-shedding effect, which can cause dizziness, nausea, vascular issue, strokes, and cognitive issues, to name a few. We want to lower blood pressure safely and within guidelines that are optimal for patients’ overall health. Leaving it untreated is not an option, and as I stated, many patients don’t know they have high blood pressure, which is very dangerous and, in many cases, life-threatening.
Simon Grinshteyn, M.D., FAPWHc
Dr. Simon Grinshteyn is board-certified in family medicine, with additional certification in wound management and hyperbaric medicine. He provides preventive and diagnostic care for acute and acute and chronic illnesses, with special interests in advanced diabetes care and hypertension management. His goal is to help patients achieve and maintain good health.
Dr. Grinshteyn earned his medical degree from St. Matthew’s University School of Medicine in Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands, and Ross University School of Medicine in Bridgetown, Barbados, where he graduated with highest honors. He completed a residency in family medicine at the Wright Center for Graduate Medical Education in Wilkes-Barre, Penn., where he served as Chief Resident. Dr. Grinshteyn is fluent in English and Russian.
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Bayfront Health Medical Group
Primary Care & Walk-In
Murdock Medical Plaza
1649 Tamiami Trail, Unit 1, Port Charlotte
To learn more about how the Medical Group is proving COVID-safe care, visit www.bayfrontmedicalgroup.com/pps-covid-19.