Hypertension

Having high blood pressure (or hypertension) may be due to a variety of causes. Some of these can be changed, so that your hypertension can be reduced or disappear altogether. If you smoke, drink a lot of alcohol, are overweight, and do little exercise, these factors combine to give you high blood pressure. In turn, this can lead to other problems such as kidney failure, diabetes, heart attack or stroke. So lifestyle changes are a vital part of any programme to treat your hypertension. Medication to reduce your blood pressure is very effective, but you must keep taking the tablets, or your blood pressure will not lower. Checking your blood pressure regularly is a good idea, and you may decide to buy your own blood pressure monitor, so that you can take your blood pressure at home, when it is likely to be more reliable, as it is unaffected by rushing to an appointment at the surgery. You can find which blood pressure monitors are recommended by looking at the British and Irish Hypertension Society. Sometimes your GP surgery may be able to lend you a blood pressure monitor, so that you can record your readings. Flo is helpful here, because if you have been enrolled by a health professional, you will then receive a message asking for your blood pressure readings, and text them in. They go to a secure website which can be seen only by your GP or nurse.

Flo may also be used to remind you to take your tablets, if you have a problem remembering to do this. Or you can be sent messages about losing weight, stopping smoking, drinking, or taking more exercise.

You may prefer not to receive all these messages, and just to look at information when you need it. There are various apps which can help here. The free Manage Your Health app (see below) has a lot of useful information about hypertension, and there are a number of other apps which can help with lifestyle changes. You can look at some of these in the ‘Apps for managing hypertension’ section below.

Websites such as NHS: LiveWell can help with diet, smoking cessation, exercise, and alcohol reduction. The NHS: Home website also has lots of information about the causes and treatment of high blood pressure. It is a great source for all conditions.

Sometimes, a follow-up appointment with your doctor or nurse may be offered via Skype. This can be more convenient, especially if you are regularly checking your own blood pressure readings. . There is a video below of a nurse reviewing a patient with diabetes using Skype.

Facebook may not always be thought of as an obvious way to manage your high blood pressure, but it is a useful means of communicating with other people, and there are several situations where it has proved invaluable. People who are not able to get out of their home very easily can get lonely and not have the support from others when they have a medical condition. Your GP surgery is likely to have a Facebook page, with information about what is happening in the practice, and sometimes advice about specific conditions. Some clinics and surgeries have also set up ‘Closed Facebook Groups’ for different conditions, and these provide support from other people in a similar situation. If, for instance you were trying to lose weight, and you were finding it difficult, other people who are also trying to do the same could provide encouragement and tips, as they will have experienced similar problems. There is a video below of a nurse and patients speaking about using Facebook for Atrial Fibrillation.