My friend Sara G, at Survivable Life, has prompted me to write today's post on my experience with a potentially life-threatening issue---hypertension, or high blood pressure.
Take a look at Sara's blog. She suffered a devastating stroke because of high blood pressure. She is making a courageous recovery, but not without much suffering and pain to herself and her family.
Seventeen years ago, I applied for life insurance. The life insurance company sent a nurse out to my home to get a medical history and take my blood pressure as part of the application process.
My health has always been excellent. Good genes, I guess. My blood pressure had always been lower than the recommended 120/80. So, I had no worries about the exam at all.
It was like a thunderbolt when the nurse informed me that my blood pressure was 185/115. I didn't believe it. I made her take another reading. Same result. She advised me to "get to a doctor now!"
I did. And thus began my education regarding hypertension.
First of all, I thought the doctor would be able to tell me WHY my BP was suddenly so high. After all, there was no history of this in my family. But, after a thorough examination, he could not say why. He explained that there are many, many factors involved. Although I was not particularly overweight at the time, he advised me to lose ten or fifteen pounds. He advised me to get daily exercise. He started me out on a mild BP drug.
I returned to see him six weeks later. I had lost ten pounds and was exercising and was taking my meds. My BP was then 160/98. The treatment was not working.
He put me on a stronger med. A month later my BP was 150/92. Still, not nearly good enough.
Then, I took matters into my own hands and went to a cardiologist, who prescribed a combination drug that dropped my pressure to 128/84. That was more like it! All of this time, I was worried about suddenly having a stroke. Basically, what happens with untreated hypertension is that the constant high pressure eventually causes a blood vessel to burst in the brain (stroke) and this results in all kinds of things from paralysis to death. You definitely want to avoid this!
The good news is that hypertension can be easily managed with no side effects with the proper meds. The bad news is that many folks just avoid going to the doctor. Either they do not know they have high BP, or they think their high BP is really no problem because they "feel" fine. Either one of those bad choices can get you paralyzed or dead.
A few times a week, I check my BP at home using my $50 Omron BP meter. It takes 30 seconds. For the past 15 years or so, my BP has been running pretty constant at 138/78.
My friends, if you are not aware of your BP, please check it---and get treated if it is high. You do not want a stroke.