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For a long life, keep your blood pressure at a healthy level

Keeping your blood pressure at the healthy level of 120/80 or as close to that as possible is what we each need to aim for, according to registered nurse and blood pressure educator Jannette Cabrera-Fox.

She is part of a team of specialists who will teach a special programme designed to help persons with high blood pressure and those at risk.

Offered by the Bermuda Hospitals Board, the four-week pressure point programme will be available through referral by a doctor.

It will be administered by the hospital’s Diabetes Centre and Cardiac Care Programme and will cover four main areas that those with hypertension need to focus their attention on.

The programme will run once a week and feature specialists in the area being addressed. No matter the topic or specialist presenter, the class will go for a walk at each meeting.

“This is to emphasise the importance of walking,” said Ms Cabrera-Fox.

In the first class, students will have blood pressure explained so that they have a clear understanding of what is happening in their bodies when their readings are high versus when they are at healthy levels.

Ms Cabrera-Fox said emphasis on the heart and how hypertension affects it and other organs, will be taught in this class.

In the second week a clinical dietitian will explain how diet can affect blood pressure and in particular the importance of limiting salt/sodium intake.

Medications, how they work and when to take them will be the focus of the third class.

“Some people believe they can stop their medication once their pressure reaches the target goal,” said Ms Cabrera-Fox. “But although they have reached their goal, they must continue, even if they feel well. We explain the importance of this to them.”

The students will learn what side effects to expect and what symptoms warrant them alerting their physicians.

“We also explain that there is no double standard. The target pressure is 120/80 whether the person is on medication or not,” said Ms Cabrera-Fox.

In the final class the importance of exercise and keeping stress to a minimum are discussed. Ms Cabrera-Fox said the presenters work closely with the students helping them to identify stressors in their life.

“Some people don’t realise that they are stressed, and some don’t know what they can do about it,” she said. “We suggest different relaxation and coping techniques.”

Many people don’t realise that when they become irritated, frustrated or stressed at work, that leaving their desk for ten minutes can really help in calming them, she noted.

Ms Cabrera-Fox said this segment usually makes people more aware of what causes them to feel stressed. And this is helpful, she said, because it helps the person better manage situations to avoid the trigger altogether.

She said it’s helpful for the students to bring their spouses to this class as the importance of communication is covered.

“Lack of communication is an important risk factor for heart disease,” she said. “Patients learn not to minimise their own lives.”

Where necessary, counselling is also offered.

”We do have a clinical psychologist on staff,” said Ms Cabrera-Fox.

If you would like to sign up for the programme speak with your doctor or call the Diabetes Centre and Cardiac Care Programme on 239-2027.

Hands on help: Nurse Jannette Carera-Fox is on the Pressure Point team that educate locals on how to manage their blood pressure to the safe level of 120/80.

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Published November 15, 2011 at 1:00 am (Updated November 15, 2011 at 7:49 am)

For a long life, keep your blood pressure at a healthy level

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