During a conversation about high blood pressure, Jill Doerfler, M.D., uses the phrase “silent killer” on several occasions. Since the condition doesn’t usually have symptoms, the phrase accurately describes what can happen if it is left untreated, she explained.
“High blood pressure can lead to heart disease, stroke and kidney disease,” Dr. Doerfler said. “Respectively, these three conditions represent the first, third and ninth leading causes of death in the United States.”
Dr. Doerfler’s practice is at St. Rose Family Medicine. Because May is National High Blood Pressure Education Month, she wanted to share information that may encourage people to get their numbers checked.
On a national level, the DASH eating plan is viewed as one way to possibly lower blood pressure. The acronym stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.
“This is one step you can take to gradually start eating healthy meals,” Dr. Doerfler said. “DASH emphasizes fruits and vegetables, and low-fat dairy products. It is moderate in total fat and low in saturated fat and cholesterol.”
The plan also includes eating whole grains, poultry, fish and nuts, while limiting salt intake.
Other factors in preventing and controlling high blood pressure include maintaining a healthy weight, exercising and limiting alcohol consumption.
“If these and other preventive measures are taken together, they can help exponentially,” Dr. Doerfler said. “But if you do only one of them, there will be little difference.
“We can be pretty sure about one thing, though - preventive measures are cheaper than taking medicine,” she added. “Anything you can do without medicine is great.”
The theme of national blood pressure month is: “Prevent and Control High Blood Pressure: Mission Possible.”
“To help people get started, they are encouraged to make gradual changes such as adding a veggie to your plate,” Dr. Doerfler said. “In addition, you can gradually lower your fat intake and try serving up smaller portions.
“There is no one cure,” she elaborated. “But a combination of measures can help prevent heart, stroke and kidney problems, along with Type 2 diabetes. Anyone who is wondering about their numbers and those with a family history of hypertension should get their blood pressure checked. The few minutes it takes can be a life saver.”
St. Rose specializes in primary care, prevention and wellness. Services include St. Rose Family Medicine & Urgent Care, Great Bend Internists, imaging, infusion clinic, WellnessWorks, one-day surgical procedures, Golden Belt Home Health & Hospice and a comprehensive Specialty Clinic. St. Rose is co-owned by Hays Medical Center and Centura Health.