A Message from Dr. Van H. Dunn, Chief Medical Officer, Spring 2024

May is High Blood Pressure Education Month, so it’s a good time to talk about it—especially since it affects nearly 50 percent of the U.S. population.* Also known as hypertension, it is sometimes called a silent killer, because you can walk around with no symptoms and no idea that you have it.

That’s why I recommend you see your healthcare provider regularly to have your blood pressure checked. If your levels are elevated, but it’s detected early, your physician may suggest lifestyle changes to get it under control. But, if you’ve tried that and your pressure is still high, your healthcare provider may prescribe medication.

If you do start taking medication, it’s important that you do NOT skip doses. The best way to get your blood pressure under control is to take your medication as prescribed and have regular follow-up appointments. The only person who should update your prescription is your healthcare provider. You shouldn’t make any changes on your own. When not treated properly, hypertension can damage your heart, eyes and other organs.

The good news is that lifestyle changes, such as eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise can help prevent hypertension. Stress can also play a role. And as healthcare workers, stress is something we know all too well. So managing your stress can make a big difference in managing your blood pressure.

I speak from experience—I’ve been managing my hypertension since medical school.

I speak from experience—I’ve been managing my hypertension since medical school. I cut out desserts and sugary drinks and lost 80 pounds. But I still routinely see my healthcare provider and monitor my blood pressure regularly to make sure it’s under control. If I can do it, so can you!

Visit Healthy Hearts page of our Healthy Living Resource Center for more information.

*Centers for Disease Control and Prevention