Mercy's Dr. Ruth Brocato Discusses Hypertension and Its Impact on the Body

August 27, 2018
Mercy Personal Physicians at Lutherville

Nearly half of adults in the U.S. have high blood pressure and have no idea.

The American Heart Association recently updated the guidelines. High blood pressure used to be defined as 140 over 90. It's now 130 over 80.

Ever since Tess Pavoni had emergency heart surgery in 2009, she's taken her health very seriously.

"It was a big scare," Pavoni said. "After that, I realized I need to pay attention to my health and well-being."

She never paid attention before, but during a routine procedure Pavoni discovered some surprising news.

"You sit there, they're taking your blood pressure, and I don't feel any different, but it was high, like 150 over 100, and I was like, 'Oh, that's not good,'" Pavoni said.

The standard is 130 over 80. That, or anything above it, is considered high, and usually patients, like Pavoni, have no signs or symptoms.

"Most people who have elevated blood pressure have absolutely no idea that their blood pressure is elevated," said Dr. Ruth Brocato of Mercy Personal Physicians at Lutherville.

Knowing the numbers can help prevent long-term consequences.

"The most common concern is congestive heart failure, but patients with high blood pressure are also at increased risk of a heart attack, an ischemic event, stroke, a brain bleed, kidney failure," Dr. Brocato said.

All these problems can be prevented if a patient is diagnosed with hypertension -- cutting down on sodium, alcohol and quitting smoking also makes a difference.

A healthy lifestyle helps, too.

"Trying to increase exercise and lose weight are all basic things that are fairly simple and often will resolve the issue," Dr. Brocato said.

In some cases, like Pavoni's, medication is prescribed. Since learning she has hypertension, she also discovered it's part of her family history.

Pavoni said she's glad she knows. All three of her sons are now in college and she has a lot to look forward to.

View Mercy’s Dr. Ruth Brocato’s interview about high blood pressure and its impact on the body.

Dan Collins - Senior Director of Media Relations at Mercy Medical Center

Dan Collins, Senior Director of Media Relations

Email: Office: 410-332-9714 Cell: 410-375-7342

About Mercy

Founded in 1874, Mercy Medical Center is a university-affiliated medical facility named one of the top 100 hospitals in the U.S. by Thomson-Reuters with a national reputation for women’s health. Mercy is home to the nationally acclaimed Weinberg Center for Women’s Health and Medicine as well as the $400+ million, 20-story Mary Catherine Bunting Center. For more information visit Mercy online at, Facebook, Twitter or call 1-800-MD-MERCY.

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