If your blood pressure is normal, keep up the good work! But make sure you get a checkup at least every two years. If you are in the "pre-high blood pressure" category, recheck it in a year and seriously consider making some healthy lifestyle changes (Step 9).
If you DO have high blood pressure, your doctor will investigate further to see whether there is an identifiable cause. In addition, the doctor will want to determine if you have any related medical problems or risks for heart disease, such as high cholesterol and diabetes. If you do have these risks, your doctor will likely want to see you more often and start treatment sooner.
The medical history
The medical history should include an evaluation of the following:
Your health history
Your family's health history
Your use of prescription and over-the-counter drugs; vitamins, minerals, and herbal remedies; or illicit drugs
A dietary assessment (including sodium, alcohol, saturated fat, and caffeine)
A history of recent changes in your weight, physical activity, tobacco or alcohol use
Possible social, emotional, or environmental factors that could influence blood pressure (family situation, job status, work conditions, etc.)
The physical examination
During the physical exam, the doctor will check your eyes, neck, heart, lungs, arms, legs, and abdomen. This is done to determine the severity of your condition and to detect any sign of heart disease or organ/tissue damage.
Lab tests and diagnostic procedures
Routine lab tests help the doctor assess organ damage and other heart disease risks before beginning treatment. These lab tests include urinalysis, blood cell count, blood chemistry (potassium, sodium, creatinine, glucose), total cholesterol and HDL cholesterol, and an ECG (electrocardiogram). Additional tests may be recommended based on your condition.
Reviewed By: Jacqueline A. Hart, M.D., Department of Internal Medicine,
Newton-Wellesley Hospital, Harvard University and Senior Medical Editor,
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