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Teach the patient the pathophysiology of hypertension. Explain the actions, dosages, and adverse effects of prescribed antihypertensive medications, and discuss risk factors that can cause organ damage. Review dietary restrictions. Stress the importance of reading food labels and avoiding prepared foods with high sodium content. Foods with sodium listed among the top five ingredients are not recommended. Recommend that canned meats and vegetables be rinsed for 1 minute to remove most of the sodium. Explain the need to decrease the intake of saturated fats and cholesterol. Encourage patients on potassium-losing medications to eat foods rich in potassium. Patients taking potassium-sparing diuretics should avoid excessive use of salt substitutes, since they may be high in potassium.

Teach the patient the need for regular aerobic exercise and stress reduction. Demonstrate relaxation techniques. Teach the patient the correct use of a self-monitoring blood pressure cuff. Advise the patient to record the reading at least twice weekly in a journal and to bring the journal with him or her when visiting the physician. Explain the need to take the blood pressure at approximately the same time and following a similar type of activity. Also encourage the patient to keep a record of the medications prescribed and their efficacy. Suggest that the patient establish a daily routine for taking antihypertensive medications, and remind him or her to avoid vaso-constricting over-the-counter cold and sinus medications.

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