If you have no primary care provider (family physician or nurse practitioner), and have high blood pressure and/or you are taking a blood thinner (Warfarin), there is a new service starting that is just for you.
Melanie Thibeau, a nurse practitioner, is now taking patients as part of South West Health’s cardiovascular program. She is based in the Wellness Centre at Yarmouth Regional Hospital. People from across the district, without a primary care provider, with hypertension and/or taking Warfarin can self refer by calling the Wellness Centre at 742-3542 ext. 1460.
“People who haven’t had a primary care provider, meaning they haven’t had routine medical care, should take steps to check their blood pressure regularly,” says Dr. Brian Moses, internist. “High blood pressure, or hypertension, is called the silent killer because, often, people do not know they have it until they experience a crisis event like a heart attack or a stroke.”
Thibeau will support patients with the goal of reducing their risk of cardiovascular disease or reoccurrence of a cardiovascular event. Patients will still be encouraged to seek out a primary care provider as services become available within the district.
Thibeau is working in collaboration with Dr. Brian Moses and nursing staff of the Wellness Centre. This new service is a step towards developing a more comprehensive Anti-coagulation Clinic and Hypertensive Management Strategy in keeping with the provincial launch of My Blood Pressure initiative from the Department of Health and Wellness.
Thibeau has worked in the primary health care setting as a nurse practitioner and as a registered nurse within the district for 16 years with a keen interest in cardiovascular care. She is also an adjunct lecturer with Dalhousie University School of Nursing.
Community pharmacies also offer blood pressure monitoring. You can drop by and check your blood pressure regularly. Readings for most people should be less than 140/90 mmHg. Readings for people with diabetes or kidney disease should be less than 130/80 mmHg. If over several weeks you notice the average of your blood pressure readings is high, contact the Wellness Centre for an appointment.
People with a primary care provider are encouraged to check their blood pressure between office visits with their physician or nurse practitioner. If several readings over a few weeks are elevated, call your provider for an appointment.
Remember when checking your blood pressure to measure the right way. Do not talk, be seated with your back supported, do not cross your legs, keep your feet on the floor and ensure your arm is supported. Exercising 30 minutes before, or having coffee, food, a cigarette or decongestant in the hour before your reading can all result in a false reading. Be sure that you have also emptied your bladder and bowel before taking your reading. The stress of needing a bathroom visit can also give you a false reading.