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Reducing the Risk of High Blood Pressure: What to Know

Home Health Care Visiting nurse with patient VNA Visiting Nurse Association

One of the most prevalent reasons that a client chooses to see me in my Independent Living facility clinic is hypertension. They will usually describe to me in detail how they went to the MD office that week, and that while they were there the MD was concerned about their blood pressure is too high. They go on to explain that the MD would like the clinic nurse to be monitoring it for a short time to determine if the blood pressure was too high or just a fluke.

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension is deemed the silent killer. The reason for this is that there are very few symptoms associated with it, and so without knowing your blood pressure, you could unknowingly be walking around with a time bomb about to go off in your body. The force of the blood against the artery walls can lead to deadly diseases and conditions such as heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. There is even a form of dementia associated with high blood pressure, called vascular dementia.

The first few questions I ask my client when they come to me with this predicament are:

“What kinds of foods do you consume on a normal basis?” The reason I ask this is that a strong component of high blood pressure is the consumption of salt. Salt is hidden in many common foods and so inquiring about their diet is imperative to determine if the culprit surrounding hypertension could be diet-related. Some common examples of foods riddled with salt are hot dogs, canned soups, cured meats such as ham and bacon, frozen meals that can be microwaved, sardines, spaghetti sauce, pickles, and any processed food (especially in the middle isles of the grocery store.) If the client eats a healthy diet with low sodium then it stands to reason that there could be another reason that their blood pressure could be so high.

“Do you drink tea or coffee on a regular basis, and when you had your blood pressure taken was it within an hour of drinking a caffeinated beverage?” It has been determined that caffeine can create a short term spike in blood pressure for a short time after consumption.

“Had you exercised right before your blood pressure was taken?” We know that exercise can also increase blood pressure as well as heart rate if the blood pressure was taken directly after significant exercise. The high blood pressure reading would certainly resume normalcy after exercise was completed if that was the reason for the hypertensive reading.

Exercise, however, has been discovered to be a great component of lowering blood pressure overall and is better for health in general. Physical activity has been researched to indicate that it can help reduce high blood pressure and should be done on a daily basis.

“Are you feeling any more stress than usual?” It has been determined that stress is yet another culprit to increase blood pressure. It is important that blood pressure monitoring is being done on a regular basis to indicate if stress levels are running too high.

“Has anyone in your immediate family struggled with high blood pressure?” Unfortunately, genetics does play a role in some client’s hypertension and this is not usually able to be treated without medication.

Once hypertension has been diagnosed by a physician then a home health care provider could assist with eliminating some of these criteria associated with the high blood pressure, and work towards the goal of reducing the blood pressure to a healthy one.

A TLC HomeCare Caregiver could assist with meal preparation and make a point to reduce salt when preparing foods. TLC Caregiver could eliminate or reduce hidden salt foods as mentioned above as much as possible when helping with a healthy diet. Instead, home health aid could increase fruits and vegetables rich in potassium and reduce excess calories and fat. They could be assessing food consumption and assisting with regulating the client’s diet in general.

A TLC Caregiver could also be noting the stress levels of the client when visiting and assisting. They could be aware of mental status changes that could indicate a spike in blood pressure. The TLC Caregiver could also assist with and support an exercise routine to reduce blood pressure and gain overall health. Lastly, if delegated by one of TLC HomeCare’s Nurse Case Managers, TLC Caregiver could assist with monitoring blood pressure of a client and recording those readings for the case manager to oversee on a normal basis.

As high blood pressure is increasing in elderly adults it stands to reason that TLC Homecare could provide an excellent quality service when helping the geriatric population manage their hypertension, and maybe even eliminate it completely. Our TLC HomeCare providers could end up assisting a client to manage their blood pressure at home with healthy habits, versus needing to be placed on a medication designed to reduce blood pressure.