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Step 7: Follow-up office visits
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If your blood pressure is normal, keep up the good work! But make sure you get a checkup at least every 2 years. If you are in the "pre-high blood pressure" category, recheck it in a year and seriously consider making some healthy lifestyle changes (Step 9).

If you DO have high blood pressure, your doctor will investigate further to see whether there is an identifiable cause. In addition, the doctor will want to determine if you have any related medical problems or risks for heart disease, such as high cholesterol and diabetes. If you do have these risks, your doctor will likely want to see you more often and start treatment sooner.

The medical history

The medical history should include an evaluation of the following:

  • Your health history
  • Your family's health history
  • Your use of prescription and over-the-counter drugs; vitamins, minerals, and herbal remedies; or illicit drugs
  • A dietary assessment (including sodium, alcohol, saturated fat, and caffeine)
  • A history of recent changes in your weight, physical activity, tobacco or alcohol use
  • Possible social, emotional, or environmental factors that could influence blood pressure (family situation, job status, work conditions, etc.)

The physical examination

During the physical exam, the doctor will check your eyes, neck, heart, lungs, arms, legs, and abdomen. This is done to determine the severity of your condition and to detect any sign of heart disease or organ/tissue damage.

Lab tests and diagnostic procedures

Routine lab tests help the doctor assess organ damage and other heart disease risks before beginning treatment. These lab tests include urinalysis, blood cell count, blood chemistry (potassium, sodium, creatinine, and glucose), total cholesterol and HDL cholesterol, and an ECG (electrocardiogram). Additional tests may be recommended based on your condition.

The urine test (urinalysis) will check the health of your kidneys. What percent of kidney failure is caused by high blood pressure?

 

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Review Date: 6/8/2011
Reviewed By: Steven Kang, MD, Division of Cardiac Pacing and Electrophysiology, East Bay Arrhythmia, Cardiovascular Consultants Medical Group, Oakland, CA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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