Get the Most from your Doctor – Part One: Blood Pressure

These days, the average doctor’s visit lasts barely seven minutes, and that doesn’t leave you much time to address important health concerns.

So how do you get the most out of your time with your doc? How do you make those seven minutes count?

By knowing your numbers. The more you educate yourself, the better you’ll be able to utilize that time with your doctor.

Are doctors trained in prevention or disease?

A doctor’s training goes something like this: here is a disease and here is the medicine to treat that disease.

This may sound simplified, but doctors are not trained in how to keep people from becoming unhealthy or how to prevent unwanted medical situations from happening. In a word, they are not trained in prevention.

What specific things do you need to know for optimal health?

If you don’t know what to ask for, you might miss the opportunity to get the information you need from your doctor. It’s left to us to educate ourselves and our families, and I’m here to help.

Know your numbers – it’s crucial!

This is the first of my six part series on Getting the Most from your Doctor. In this series, I will share vital numbers you should know and questions you should ask about those numbers.

What’s Your Optimal Blood Pressure?

We’ll start with blood pressure. The optimal blood pressure has been going down over the past years, and the trend continues. We used to consider 120/80 to be the optimal blood pressure. Now there are studies showing that we would benefit from our blood pressure being 110/70.

I get concerned when I hear my patients say, “Oh I have white-coat hypertension.” Which means, “my blood pressure goes up when I go to the doctor.” Or, “my blood pressure goes up because I was driving in traffic,” etc…

Because just recently, it has been shown that when blood pressure goes up, even just on occasion, it still increases the stress on our blood vessels. So we really want to try to avoid an elevated blood pressure.

How to Decrease Blood Pressure:

How can we do that? One thing is to avoid eating too much salt. A lot of people have salt-sensitive blood pressure; it goes up when they eat a salty meal. Eating at restaurants, eating soups that are very high in salts, eating canned foods, frozen foods…all of these are very high in salt. And these are the things you should try to avoid if you get a high blood pressure reading now and then.

You should also be aware that nicotine and caffeine – anything ending in “ine” – will also raise your blood pressure. Consider reducing these as well.

It’s a good idea to get your blood pressure checked regularly, and when you do, compare it to the ideal number. If it’s too high, you should be looking at what’s causing it to be elevated so you can take steps to lower your blood pressure to a healthier level.


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