Brook Remote Care

Week 4 – Your Diagnosis

High blood pressure

WHAT IS BLOOD PRESSURE? 

Blood pressure is a measurement of the force of blood against the blood vessels as it travels through the body. It tells us how much strain is being placed on your veins and arteries.

Your blood carries oxygen and nutrients you need to all the cells in your body. Some pressure is natural and necessary – it allows the blood to be pumped around your body and reach all your cells. 

WHAT IS HYPERTENSION?

High blood pressure (abbreviated HBP), also known as Hypertension (HTN), occurs when a person’s blood pressure levels are above recommended levels on several occasions. Readings above 130/80 are generally considered high. HBP is more common than you might think. It’s estimated that half of all Americans have high blood pressure, even though many might not know it or feel any symptoms of it! 

Blood pressure is measured in two numbers, systolic (top number) and diastolic (bottom number). Together these numbers classify blood pressure and are used to diagnose hypertension. 

Below is a chart showing various blood pressure readings and their corresponding categories:

*High blood pressure can only be diagnosed by a medical professional. 

SYMPTOMS OF HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE 

There are often no reliable symptoms of blood pressure, as most people report having minimal or no symptoms before they’re diagnosed. Treating high blood pressure requires diagnosis and monitoring by your physician.

If you have been diagnosed with HBP and are on medications, note any physical changes you feel. Some people report dizziness or facial flushing as side effects of their medications. Talk to your doctor if you are experiencing unusual symptoms. 

WHY DO I NEED TO KNOW MY BLOOD PRESSURE?

The only way to know a person’s blood pressure is by measuring it on a regular basis. Most people with high blood pressure do not experience day-to-day symptoms. This is why high blood pressure is known as a “silent killer.”
When left untreated, high blood pressure can do significant damage to the circulatory system and blood vessels, which can contribute to heart attack, stroke, and more.


With your Brook app and synced blood pressure monitor, your provider is able to check your blood pressure numbers. This allows them to adjust your medications when necessary, and helps you know if the lifestyle changes you have made are working. 

COMPLICATIONS OF HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE

When your blood pressure is unmanaged it can increase your risk for other health complications. Here are some complications of high blood pressure untreated over time:

  • Heart disease. When blood pressure is too high, arteries (large blood vessels) have trouble pumping blood to the heart which can lead to irregular heart beats or even a heart attack. 
  • Weakening of the heart. Added strain on the heart to push blood through it causes the heart to work harder over time, eventually weakening it and causing it to work less efficiently. 
  • Stroke or dementia. Trouble getting vital nourishment to the brain over time increases risk for stroke and dementia.
  • Kidney failure. Damage to tiny blood vessels in the kidneys over time prevents the kidneys from doing their job and filtering out waste from the blood.
  • Blurred vision or loss of vision. High blood pressure damages the tiny blood vessels in our body, which are concentrated in places like the eyes. 
  • Sexual dysfunction. This can happen in both men and women, again due to a high concentration of tiny blood vessels in that area that get damaged over time. 

WHAT CAUSES HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE? 

Unhealthy eating habits → Improve your eating habits by replacing processed snack foods like chips or cookies with fresh fruit, cut up veggies, or unsalted nuts. 

High levels of stressTry taking a moment to deep breathe in and out through your mouth for 10 breaths each time you feel stress levels increasing. 

Not getting quality sleepCatch better Zzz’s by turning off all electronics at least 1 hour before going to bed, sleeping in a dark room, and going to bed at the same time every night. 

Sedentary lifestyle → Add more movement into your day by walking or adding micro-workouts when watching TV. All movement counts and adds up!

Many factors can increase your risk for having high blood pressure including: 

  • Weight gain 
  • High stress levels 
  • Not getting enough sleep or having sleep apnea 
  • Drinking too much alcohol 
  • Smoking 
  • Poor eating habits 
  • Not getting enough exercise 
  • Genetics and aging play a role for some 

IMPROVING YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE 

Managing your blood pressure involves multiple steps including: 

  • Communicating with your provider or care team in the Brook app 
  • Medication management and taking medications as prescribed
  • Following a healthy lifestyle including: 
    • Eating healthy foods 
    • Increasing physical activity 
    • Reducing stress 
    • Getting enough sleep
    • Quitting smoking
    • Maintaining a healthy weight

 

Brook is here to help. Chat with our Health Coaches to create a personalized plan for building healthy habits that fits into your lifestyle.

COMMON QUESTIONS AND CHALLENGES 

My doctor told me I have high blood pressure, now what do I do? 

We understand that learning you have high blood pressure can be overwhelming. Fortunately, we’re here to help. 

Reach out to the Health Coaches on Brook to chat about your stress level and how you’re feeling. They can help you with some de-stress techniques. They’re also there to get to know your current lifestyle and habits, so they can personalize your path to success through achievable goals over time.

The Health Coaches can also help with any questions you might have about high blood pressure or any other health-related questions. You can also reach out to your doctor or care team inside of the Brook app to ask questions or get additional support. 

Why should I test? I feel fine. 

We get it! It can be hard to find motivation to test regularly if you aren’t feeling any symptoms. In fact, most people with high blood don’t feel any symptoms. That’s why it’s know as the “silent killer” – because even without symptoms, high blood pressure damages blood vessels over time. Oftentimes by the time symptoms are felt a visit to the emergency room is required. 

Taking your blood pressure readings on a regular basis helps you better understand how well managed your blood pressure is and what changes you might need to make to improve it. It also helps your doctor and care team understand how well your medications are working, or if a change is needed. 

I’m getting high readings or my blood pressure numbers are fluctuating a lot. 

  • Home blood pressure monitors need to be used properly in order to gather more accurate data. If your reading seems higher than usual, wait 5 minutes and retest, and make sure you’re utilizing best practices:
    • Am I seated in a chair with my feet on the ground and back supported? Is my arm that I’m testing supported on a table or desk at heart level? 
    • Have I been relaxing for 5 minutes before testing? 
    • Do I have the cuff on correctly? 
    • Did I smoke, do physical activity, drink caffeine or alcohol more than 30 minutes before testing? 
  • Check out our guide on how to get accurate blood pressure readings at home.  

 

My blood pressure is higher at my doctor’s office

  • This is common for many people! It could be because of the stress of the visit or not being able to relax before the reading is taken. It’s always best to have your blood pressure readings recorded before your visit so your doctor can see your blood pressure trends. Lucky for you, your Brook app automatically tracks all of your blood pressure readings each time you take it with a connected cuff.

NEXT STEPS 

  1. Review your blood pressure testing protocol from your provider inside of the Brook Health app by going to Profile > Monitoring Protocols
    • If you need a nudge from the app to help you remember to take your blood pressure throughout the week, go to the bottom of the Monitoring Protocols page and click the ‘click here’ text to go to the Schedules & Reminders page. 
  2. Start monitoring your blood pressure each week with the device you’ve received from Brook. Once it’s been connected to the Brook Health app, it automatically connects your readings. 

Image of Brook Health Expert Kelsea
Reviewed by Kelsea Hoover, MS, RDN

as of September 2023. Kelsea is a Registered Dietitian with her Masters degree in Nutrition from Bastyr University.

Disclaimer:

Always be sure to reach out to your healthcare team when making changes to your diet or lifestyle. There are certain conditions and medications that need to be considered.