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Know Your Blood Pressure

New guidelines from the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology recommend earlier treatment with lifestyle changes and, in some cases medication, for people with blood pressure levels of 130/80, compared to the previous threshold of 140/90. Normal level blood pressure is defined as less than 120/80.

Dr. Matthew Lucks

“I tell my patients to think of blood pressure level in terms of an average,” says Matthew Lucks, MD, FACC, who joined VHC Physician Group–Cardiology in July. “Over the course of a day, blood pressure levels change. Stress, pain or caffeine can make blood pressure rise; taking a bath, deep breathing or meditation can lower it. For example, anxiety about having your blood pressure checked at the doctor’s office may result in a higher reading. However, one high reading does not mean you have high blood pressure and need to be on medication.

Taking your blood pressure at home or at a local pharmacy once or twice a week, two times the same day, over three consecutive weeks will give your doctor an average of your readings and a better understanding of what your relative normal is. The best times to take your blood pressure are 1) when it is highest: between 5:00 and 8:00 am (about an hour after waking) before eating, and 2) when it is lowest: about an hour before going to sleep.”

Dr. Lucks earned his medical degree from SUNY Health Sciences Center at Syracuse and completed his training in cardiovascular diseases at Strong Memorial Hospital, Rochester, New York. He is board certified in cardiology and has been practicing cardiology in San Diego since 2005. Dr. Lucks sees patients at the Cardiology office on the Virginia Hospital Center campus and at Primary Care Old Town.

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