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Health-care pros tell us their pa­tients’ most-asked ques­tions. This is­sue, our ex­perts talk about high blood pres­sure, ver­tigo and blood clots. Send your health ques­tions to cl.read­ers@tva.ca.

Canadian Living - - Contents -

Health-care pros on ver­tigo, blood clots and high blood pres­sure

Qpost­menopause, is high blood pres­sure in­evitable?

Dr. Har­vey says

As women tran­si­tion through menopause to post­menopause, their blood pres­sure may start to in­crease, show­ing a steeper in­cline than in their male coun­ter­parts. This is likely due to a num­ber of fac­tors, in­clud­ing hor­monal changes—specif­i­cally a loss of es­tro­gen. A healthy diet and an ac­tive life­style can be pro­tec­tive against high blood pres­sure and, in my opin­ion, are equiv­a­lent to med­i­ca­tion, since they can pre­vent a pro­gres­sive el­e­va­tion of blood pres­sure and car­dio­vas­cu­lar disease. I rec­om­mend the DASH [Di­etary Ap­proaches to Stop­ping Hy­per­ten­sion] or Mediter­ranean diet, both of which em­pha­size fresh fruit and veg­eta­bles, whole grains, fish and healthy fats like olive oil and small amounts of lean meat; in ad­di­tion, min­i­mize al­co­hol, salt and sugar con­sump­tion. Ex­er­cise is one of the most im­por­tant fac­tors in re­duc­ing risk, so get ac­tive through a com­bi­na­tion of aer­o­bic ex­er­cise—walk­ing or cy­cling, for in­stance—and light re­sis­tance ex­er­cises.

QI’ve been suf­fer­ing from ver­tigo. What causes it and how can I man­age my symp­toms?

Scott says

Ver­tigo is a type of dizzi­ness that makes you feel like you’re spin­ning or that the en­vi­ron­ment around you is mov­ing, spin­ning or tilt­ing. The sen­sa­tion comes and goes, last­ing from a few sec­onds to hours or days, and usu­ally gets worse when you move your head. Com­monly, ver­tigo is an in­ner-ear is­sue, which af­fects your cen­tre of bal­ance; it may also be a symp­tom of a head in­jury, a side-ef­fect of a med­i­ca­tion or, less likely, an early sign of some­thing more se­ri­ous, like mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis or stroke. While ver­tigo may go away on its own, symp­toms can be treated with pre­scrip­tion med­i­ca­tions or re­bal­anc­ing ex­er­cises, like the Ep­ley ma­noeu­vre. If you ex­pe­ri­ence re­cur­ring dizzi­ness, get a re­fer­ral to an ear, nose and throat spe­cial­ist. If the dizzy sen­sa­tion is ac­com­pa­nied by neck pain, a fall, loss of con­scious­ness or other neu­ro­log­i­cal symp­toms, such as seizure, vi­sion prob­lems, mus­cle weak­ness or trou­ble speak­ing, it may be a sign of mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis or stroke.

QWhat causes deep vein throm­bo­sis? I have a surgery com­ing up and am con­cerned.

Dr. Cardew says

Deep vein throm­bo­sis, or DVT, is a blood clot that typ­i­cally forms in veins in the leg. Many DVTS are un­ex­plained, but var­i­ous con­di­tions or sit­u­a­tions can put peo­ple at risk, in­clud­ing a re­cent surgery, an ex­tended hos­pi­tal stay or can­cer. Pa­tients ad­mit­ted to hos­pi­tal or peo­ple hav­ing surgery are typ­i­cally given med­i­ca­tion to pre­vent blood clots. Some med­i­ca­tions may also in­crease the risk, such as hor­mone re­place­ment ther­apy and oral con­tra­cep­tives. Seek med­i­cal at­ten­tion if you ex­pe­ri­ence any of the fol­low­ing symp­toms in the leg: a per­sis­tent uni­lat­eral ache or pain, swelling or dis­col­oration. A DVT in the leg can travel to the blood ves­sels in the lungs— known as a pul­monary em­bolism— and can cause short­ness of breath, chest pain and, in ex­treme cases, car­diac ar­rest.

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