The Lloydminster Co-op Pharmacy will be holding free blood pressure clinics on Feb. 13 and Feb. 24. The clinics are being held to bring awareness to hypertension and high blood pressure and inform people the best ways to deal with these problems.
“On those two days we’ll have an extra pharmacist on and it’ll mainly be to tell people that there’s a significant amount of people who are affected by high blood pressure,” said Jelena Okuka, Co-op Pharmacy manager. “Basically one in five will have a diagnoses of hypertension or high blood pressure and for many people, often it’s asymptomatic, so there are no symptoms.”
Okuka hopes to inform people on what it means to have high blood pressure and the importance of being on medication. Because there are often no symptoms, people tend to have a hard time keeping to their medication schedule.
“That way if people have any specific concerns in terms of, let’s say compliance, you know it’s not the lack of symptoms that’s preventing them from taking their medication. It’s because it’s hard to remember that second dose at the end of the day,” she said.
People with this problem who come to the clinic will have the chance to work out a more suitable dosing schedule with the pharmacists at the advice of a physician.
They will also get the opportunity to have an up-to-date reading and have a demonstration on how to take their own blood pressure, so if they have a monitor at home, they’ll know how to properly do it themselves.
Other things that can be discussed at the clinic are the dangers of over the counter medications that may increase a person’s blood pressure or conflict with their prescriptions.
“Some people don’t realize that there are some things that are over the counter that might increase their blood pressure and that there are safer alternatives,” said Okuka, “and again in that case we would probably get the patient to check their blood pressure and make sure if it is, or is not, appropriate to be taking the said over the counter medication.”
More than half of people diagnosed fall in the 60 to 70 year age bracket with about another 25 per cent between the ages of 40 and 60. People who fall into these age ranges are also encouraged to attend the clinic and get checked out.
Although it’s often genetics that are the cause, some basic ways to help with hypertension and blood pressure include regular exercise, cutting down on sodium and processed foods, eating more fruits and vegetables and moderating alcohol intake.
“You don’t have to go to the gym and pump weights and run marathons, but any physical activity in your day to day life is helpful,” Okuka said. “Then obviously if you’re a smoker, quitting smoking, that’s another way of helping not only just your blood pressure but just overall reducing your cardiovascular risk factor.”