High blood pressure is a chronic disease. It must be treated forever. Many people have difficulty accepting this fact or its consequences. Patients must come to terms with this fact. Doctors often explain the nature of this chronic condition to their patients to help them understand the intensity of their disease and to get them to cooperate with him in fighting it. After all, it is the health of the patient; it is the quality and length of his life that a doctor is dealing with. The patient’s attitude and actions count a lot. A doctor can work out a detailed treatment plan. He can keep the patient well informed and guide him with patience and understanding but the rest is all up to the patient. He should learn how to deal with his high blood pressure.
i) Accepting the fact: The patient must relax. He must stop living in constant fear about his blood pressure and on a high reading which may come occasionally. At the same time he cannot run away from the facts. He has to accept the fact that he has high blood pressure and he has to tackle it.
ii) Re-examine values and goals: The fact that a person has hypertension must help him in ‘Self-discovery’. He should take stock of himself. He should redefine his values and priorities. Some persons have a very hectic life, always behind busy schedules and making money. Such persons are always under much stress. When they are told that they have hypertension they must do ‘introspection’ and think about their lifestyle. A person may suddenly realise that he has been missing out on so many beautiful things. There is more to life than just materialistic aspects. He must realise that it is foolish to continue chasing after things that may not be all that important at all. Redefining his goals can sometimes give him a new perspective on life. It could be more satisfying relaxing, less stressful. Such changes can decrease his high blood pressure.
iii) Practising self-discipline and living sensibly: The fight against high blood pressure does not involve extraordinary measures. A person has to take his medications regularly and make small changes in his eating and living habits. Some people have a problem about following the rules laid down. Self-control and self-discipline are needed, particularly if a patient is asked to give up something like his favourite dish or cigarettes. Most doctors realise, often on the basis of personal experience, that what they ask of their patients is not always easy. But that does not relieve them of the responsibility to convince their patients of the need for adherence to their orders.
Routine is the key to successful treatment, and self-discipline is the key to routine. Here are some of the things that a person with hypertension must do routinely:
- Take medication.
- Stick to his diet.
- Alternate work with rest and play.
- Get enough sleep.
- Go for check up and have his blood pressure taken (or he can check it himself).
There have been very few cases (going by statistics) where people could not adjust to the change in their lives. The important thing a person should keep in mind is that he can prevent his high blood pressure from turning into a serious disease. This is entirely in the hands of the patient.
Patients often ask a doctor what effect their sickness will have on their job or profession, what they can eat, whether they can engage in sports, what the treatment is like, what they are allowed to do on their vacations, whether they can drink alcohol or coffee or tea. The following section gives the answers to these very commonly asked questions in a simplified language.