Living With Hypertension

Though a dangerous and chronic disease, hypertension is nevertheless very treatable. A combination of medication and lifestyle changes can bring most cases of hypertension under control. Keeping hypertension under control over the long haul is the difficult part. In order to keep hypertension under control, it is necessary to stop eating some tasty foods, to exercise more frequently than may be comfortable (at least at first), and to take medicines as prescribed day in and out – possibly for the rest of your life. It can be difficult for people to truly accept and recognize the need for such changes when they do not feel particularly impacted by their illness and when there are no obvious symptoms.

Though hypertension patients may not feel ill, they are nevertheless headed for trouble if they do not get their blood pressure under control. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, as the saying goes. The right thing to do if you have hypertension is to adopt and maintain healthy lifestyle changes such as daily exercise and the DASH diet, to follow your doctor's treatment program, including taking medications as prescribed, and seeing your doctor for follow-up visits where your blood pressure can be monitored on a regular basis. Your failure to maintain treatments and lifestyle changes will likely result in a resumption of the slow but cumulative and progressive damage to your body's vital organs (your heart, kidney and brain in particular) associated with hypertension. In this age of 'medicine worship' it is particularly important that you not underestimate the benefits to be had from healthy diet, exercise, and weight maintainance. Even though these 'treatments' are not medication they offer a similar, if not more effective, result, improve your overall physical and mental health, and have no negative side effects (many medicines do!).

It can be very discouraging to be diagnosed with a chronic condition like hypertension. It can lead to feelings of depression and helplessness. Finding support systems (church, clubs, community centers), as well as family and friends to talk with can help defuse this negative stress, as can seeking out counseling and medical treatments for depression (such as antidepressant medications). Support groups are also good sources of mentoring as they offer a means of meeting people who have successfully adapted their lifestyle in positive directions. Taking steps to insure your mental wellness and positive outlook make it easier for you to proactively improve your physical health and make necessary lifestyle changes.