When should I see a doctor about my blood pressure?
Health Q & A with Dr. Michael Jacobson, D.O.
Question: I am a 63-year-old male with what I believe is a borderline high blood pressure reading of 149/88. I do not have a personal physician who I see regularly. What would you recommend I do, if anything, about my blood pressure?
Answer: Thank you for your question about high blood pressure (hypertension). A diagnosis of hypertension isn’t made from a single blood pressure measurement. You should record at least three readings.
Readings are always given in pairs—the upper (systolic) value first, followed by the lower (diastolic) value. A physician averages the results and might recommend treatment if the average exceeds 140 systolic or 90 diastolic. Further allowance is made for age: for individuals over the age of 60, the upper limit is 150/90. Given this consideration, you may not—technically—have high blood pressure.
I suggest taking at least three separate blood pressure readings on different days using a reliable instrument (sphygmomanometer). If you don’t have one at home, you typically can find one at your local pharmacy. Calculate the average of your three measurements and secure the services of a competent family physician to assess your results.
A solid relationship with a family physician is foundational to navigating the healthcare system. Ask friends for recommendations. Better yet, ask a few nurses from your local hospital for their referrals. When a real need arises you'll have confidence knowing who will be caring for you.
Please note: My office requires a one-week turnaround for medical information. If you have an acute or emergency medical incident, please seek immediate medical attention.
If you have a health question for Dr. Jacobson, CHM Medical Director, please email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. This information is not intended to replace the advice of your physician.