How FOLX Can Help You with High Blood Pressure

Explore how FOLX clinicians tailor high blood pressure (hypertension) care for the LGBTQIA+ community, offering personalized treatment and comprehensive support.

May 16, 2024
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This article was clinically reviewed by Haley C., FNP.

Introduction

Navigating high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, can feel overwhelming, but with FOLX, you're not alone. Our clinicians specialize in LGBTQIA+ healthcare, offering a judgment-free, expert environment to manage your health holistically. Whether you're just beginning to explore blood pressure management or seeking to transfer your care, our team is here to support and care for you.

Through virtual visits, a customized care plan, messaging with your care team, resources and courses, and a Community Platform filled with support, FOLX can help you manage your high blood pressure in a way that works for you and your life.

How do I know when I should see a clinician about high blood pressure?

You might be wondering if it’s time to see a clinician for a blood pressure screening, high blood pressure, or hypertension. In general, if you have a question about your health, that is always a good time to bring it up! You can do this in your annual wellness visit, or in an appointment dedicated to this topic if it’s been on your mind.

You can also complete a blood pressure screening at your local pharmacy or with a home monitor prior to your visit with a Folx clinician. If your blood pressure reading is higher than 130/80 this indicates a conversation with a health care provider. If your blood pressure is higher than 180/100 this could indicate a more serious issue and may warrant a trip to the urgent care or emergency room. 

If you experience symptoms like severe headaches, fatigue, or vision problems, it’s definitely time to consult with a healthcare provider. If you experience chest pain and difficulty breathing, you should consult a healthcare advice line or urgent care center as this could indicate further more urgent intervention is needed. Additionally, if you've had high blood pressure readings during previous check-ups or have a family history of hypertension, it's important to complete regular screening. Our FOLX clinicians can provide a safe space to discuss these concerns and develop a personalized care plan.

If you’re getting hypertension care elsewhere and want to move your management over to FOLX, we’re here for that too. You can set up an appointment, and we’ll work to make any medication and care plan transfers as seamless as possible. 

If your hypertension requires a specialist like a cardiologist, your FOLX clinician can provide a referral to a cardiologist in your network and area. Our referrals are all vetted to be LGBTQIA+ inclusive and our Member Navigation team can help you navigate your insurance and any additional resources needed. 

What should I expect at a visit for hypertension? 

Once you have checked your blood pressure, what next? Your FOLX clinician may recommend regular monitoring at home to evaluate your blood pressure over a longer period of time. The clinician may also discuss your health habits and medications (in a non-judgmental way of course) to determine if any of these things are impacting your blood pressure. Labs can help to evaluate the cause of increased blood pressure. This can include blood work to measure renal (kidney) function and electrolytes like sodium and potassium. Labs may also be completed to evaluate for other important conditions that can impact your overall health. This can include screening for diabetes, high cholesterol, and thyroid disease. An electrocardiogram (EKG) may also be recommended to check for cardiac changes.

What kind of treatment options are there for hypertension?

Managing hypertension effectively often requires a combination of lifestyle modifications and medication. Here are the approaches we might consider:

  • Lifestyle Changes:
    • Dietary adjustments, such as reducing salt intake and increasing fruits and vegetables
    • Regular physical activity, aiming for at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity per week
    • Weight management to achieve a healthy body weight for you (with an affirming, Health at Any Size approach) 
    • Limiting alcohol intake and quitting smoking (your clinician can help with smoking cessation medications as well) 
    • Improving sleep or treating underlying conditions that affect sleep. (Like Sleep Apnea)
  • Medications:
    • Diuretics (water pills): Help rid your body of excess sodium and water
    • ACE inhibitors: Help relax blood vessels by blocking the formation of a natural chemical that narrows blood vessels
    • Angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs): Help relax blood vessels by blocking the action, not the formation, of the natural chemical
    • Calcium channel blockers: Help relax the muscles of your blood vessels and some slow your heart rate
    • Beta-blockers: Reduce the workload on your heart and open your veins and arteries to improve blood flow

Our clinicians are committed to finding the treatment plan that best fits your lifestyle and personal health needs, ensuring you feel comfortable and supported throughout your care.

FOLX is determined to provide affirming care for all medical conditions. We will never blame your health conditions on the size of your body or your gender-affirming hormone therapy. 

Is there anything I should prepare for my visit?

To make the most of your visit with a FOLX clinician, consider tracking your blood pressure readings and any symptoms you experience beforehand. If you have an at-home blood pressure monitor, you could have that handy. If you don’t have one, you can often get your blood pressure checked at a local pharmacy. If you are having any symptoms like headaches, palpitations, nausea, or blurry vision you can keep a symptom diary to track your symptoms and discuss trends with your FOLX clinician.

Also, compiling a list of any medications you’re currently taking, including over-the-counter drugs and supplements, with all their ingredients and doses, is important to your care. Being open about your health history and any concerns you have will enable us to provide the best care possible.

This article about preparing for a virtual visit can help you get ready for any FOLX appointment as well.

Other resources / further reading

For further education on hypertension and how to manage it, here are several resources you might find helpful:

1. American Heart Association - Understanding Blood Pressure Readings

2. Mayo Clinic - High blood pressure (hypertension)

3. CDC - Facts About Hypertension

4. Harvard Health - Controlling Your Blood Pressure

At FOLX, we are dedicated to providing you with resources that empower you to take control of your health in an informed and supportive environment.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can FOLX clinicians prescribe medication for hypertension?

Yes, our clinicians can prescribe all standard medications for managing hypertension, including diuretics, ACE inhibitors, and beta-blockers, tailored to your specific health needs.

What lifestyle changes does FOLX recommend for managing high blood pressure?

FOLX will help you work on lifestyle changes that are evidence-based, sustainable, and affirming. These adjustments might include dietary changes, such as reducing salt intake and eating more fruits and vegetables; increasing physical activity; and managing stress effectively to help control blood pressure.

How often should I check my blood pressure if I’m receiving treatment from FOLX?

We recommend regular monitoring of your blood pressure to assess the effectiveness of your treatment. Your FOLX clinician will provide personalized advice on how frequently you should check your blood pressure based on your specific condition and treatment plan.

Can FOLX help if I have never been diagnosed but am concerned about hypertension?

Absolutely! If you're concerned about your risk for hypertension or have noticed symptoms, FOLX can provide an initial evaluation and continuous monitoring to diagnose and manage your blood pressure effectively.

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FOLX Health is the first digital healthcare company designed by and for the LGBTQIA+ community. Our services include primary care, gender-affirming hormone therapy including estrogen and testosterone (HRT), mental health care, sexual and reproductive health care, and fertility consultations. FOLX memberships give you access to LGBTQIA+ expert clinicians, peer support, thousands of LGBTQIA+ resources, and more. Whether you’re lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, gender non-conforming, nonbinary, or another identity, you can find LGBTQ-specialized health care that helps you meet your wellness goals. Get all the benefits of becoming a FOLX member and sign up today!

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