Pressure Point, is a four-week, lifestyle management programme now offered at BHB’s Chronic Disease Management Centre. *Photo supplied
Pressure Point, is a four-week, lifestyle management programme now offered at BHB’s Chronic Disease Management Centre. *Photo supplied

High blood pressure (hypertension) is a common condition that if left untreated, may eventually cause cardiac disease, stroke or kidney failure.

Risk factors for high blood pressure include age, race (high blood pressure is particularly common among blacks), family history, being overweight or obese, not being physically active, using tobacco, having too much salt (sodium) or too little potassium or vitamin D in your diet, drinking too much alcohol, dealing with high levels of stress and certain chronic conditions, including high cholesterol, diabetes, kidney disease and sleep apnea.

“Some people have high blood pressure for years without any symptoms,” explained Debbie Jones, Bermuda Hospitals Board (BHB) diabetes nurse educator.

“But uncontrolled hypertension increases your risk for serious health problems, like heart disease and stroke.”

Fortunately, high blood pressure can be easily detected. And once you know you have high blood pressure, you can work with your doctor to control it.

You may also ask your physician to refer you to Pressure Point, a four-week, lifestyle management programme now offered at BHB’s Chronic Disease Management Centre.

Run by the BHB Diabetes Centre & Cardiac Care Programme, Pressure Point will help you understand, control and treat your high blood pressure.

Designed for patients with high blood pressure, as well as those patients with existing diabetes or heart disease, or who may be at risk for these conditions, the course will help you understand blood pressure and how it affects your health when it’s too high.

“Classes cover understanding blood pressure, good nutrition, medications and the impact of exercise and stress,” said BHB cardiac nurse educator, Myrian Balitian-Dill.

“Participants will learn the role genes and lifestyle play in managing blood pressure.

“The course will set achievable goals and teach people how to develop a plan for controlling hypertension.

“They will also learn to correctly monitor their blood pressure at home.”

Diet and nutrition play an important role in controlling blood pressure.

Pressure Point will cover what is included in a balanced diet and how to gauge healthy portions.

You will learn the value of consistent food intake and how sodium affects your pressure.

Suggestions will be provided for low sodium, low fat meals that can be prepared on the go, along with tips for reading and understanding food labels.

“Lifestyle and stress impact the treatment of hypertension,” added Ms Jones. If you successfully control your blood pressure by minimizing stress and choosing a healthy lifestyle, you may avoid, delay or reduce the need for medication.

“Our classes will teach you how to minimize stress and help you design an exercise plan that works for you.”

Sometimes blood pressure is just high and has to be treated with medications.

Pressure Point will outline different classes of drugs, how they work and important information you need to know if you are taking medication.

“We assess each participant individually,” concluded Ms Balitian-Dill.

“Once you are enrolled in the programme, your blood pressure is taken during your initial assessment and then weekly during the course.”