Every time you go to the doctor, they’ll need your weight and blood pressure. Facing the doctor’s scale can make you feel uneasy. Next, as you feel the blood pressure armband tighten, you may wonder why your doctor needs these vital signs.
Perhaps if you understand the significance of getting your weight and blood pressure, it’ll put you a little more at ease the next time you see your doctor.
A Piece to Your Puzzle
Navigating your health can sometimes be tricky. You may not be feeling well but can’t seem to find the reason why. As you go to see your doctor, your weight and blood pressure can be a piece to explain your overall health.
“For example, if you are feeling fine and doing OK, we would want your weight and blood pressure to coincide with all of that,” says nurse practitioner Wanda O’Neal-Glass, APRN, FNP-C. “When these are linked to other clinical findings it helps formulate a diagnosis and treatment plan.”
O’Neal specializes in cardiovascular disease and interprets vital signs to assess her patients overall progression. Weight and blood pressure are extremely important, especially in relation to your heart and health.
Tracked Over Time
A patient’s weight and blood pressure is tracked over time. This can help your provider see what is normal for you and what may be a red flag in your healthcare. Overtime, your weight and blood pressure provide valuable information.
O’Neal says these key indicators help to tell:
- If you’re responding well to treatment.
- If you’re being compliant with your recommended diet and exercise.
- If you’re health is improving or deteriorating.
- If you’re at risk for diseases, such as: cardiovascular disease, diabetes, kidney disease, obesity or stroke.
O’Neal particularly focuses on patients at risk for cardiovascular disease and those seeking care for chronic disease management.
“A primary risk factor for cardiovascular disease is high blood pressure and obesity,” says O’Neal. “If your weight goes up, your blood pressure level may go up as well.”
This can be the same with your cholesterol levels, all of which put you at risk for being diagnosed with cardiovascular disease or worsening of a chronic illness.
Clues Based On Health Situation
Your weight and blood pressure may also give your doctor specific insight, depending on your health situation.
For example, if you just had surgery on your ankle your provider will assess your weight and blood pressure at your follow-up appointment. If you have a high tolerance for pain, you may say your pain level is a three out of 10. However, your body may say otherwise. Your provider may see a higher than normal blood pressure and or an elevated heart rate. If one or both readings are elevated, it may indicate that more pain control is needed following surgery.
Another example would be in the obstetrics office. If you’ve been feeling sick or uneasy, your added weight gain may be due to pregnancy.
Both your weight and blood pressure can give you clues to how your body is doing.
Embarrassed about Weight?
If you’re hesitant to step on the scale, you may not be the only one.
The following is O’Neal’s approach to those who may be embarrassed about their weight:
- You’re Not Alone—Obesity plagues a lot of patients in the US and a lot of patients struggling with cardiovascular disease. Even if you are not significantly overweight, you’re not the only one being weighed in at a visit. It’s a normal part of healthcare and nurses and providers weigh in dozens of patients every day.
- Make Realistic Goals—If you’d like to get your weight on track, your doctor can find a way that will work for you. Developing patient-centered goals that are realistic to the patient, are key in achieving the desired goals.
- It’s a Journey—O’Neal tells her patients that losing weight doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a journey. Mapping out how many pounds you’d like to lose needs to be in a time frame that’s achievable.
- Get Educated—If you’ve been fluctuating in weight and aren’t sure why, see your doctor. O’Neal cautions that gaining 15 pounds in a short time could be putting stress on your body or medical condition.
- Gaining Weight or Losing Weight—Whether you’re putting on a few pounds or losing weight unexpectedly, there may be an underling health reason involved. “If there is a big fluctuation in weight gain or loss it can mean your condition is less stable,” says O’Neal. “Verses a stable weight, meaning you’re sticking within your normal pattern.”
Know When You Need Help
Most of all, your weight and blood pressure are taken in order to provide better treatment. It’s a natural part of healthcare and will help you develop a plan to keep you healthy.
“As a provider I take a good history, perform a thorough physical examination, and gather and analyze data,” says O’Neal. “This allows me to assist the patient in developing a plan that will be beneficial and realistic. I help them know what they can do and when they need to seek help.”