Sunday, October 11, 2020

High Blood Pressure Makes You Question Everything

Here's a cautionary tale for you. My blood pressure shot up. At my doctor’s appointment, it was 173/62.

High blood pressure is sneaky. It risks your health often without warning signs. I'm a prime candidate because I am overweight, and my parents and siblings had HBP. My mother died from a stroke. So I have several risk factors.

As a Dental Hygienist, I learned the prevention rules. I never smoked. Pippa walks me twice a day. I eat more chicken and tuna than red meat. I don’t add salt to anything but fresh tomatoes. I use herbs to lower my cholesterol. I thought I had things under control with an ACE inhibiting drug. I even passed a cardiac stress test a few weeks ago. 

The elevated BP is a surprise. If I don't lower it, I face a stroke with inflamed blood vessels leaking fluid or blood, and my heart unable to pump well. This situation might kill me. I have to up my game.

My doctor added a second blood pressure medicine, a beta-blocker. The next day I felt worse than I had in months. The path I walked twice a day was now a struggle. My head was woozy. That night my heart beat faster than ever. All common side effects of my new drug.

The next day I called my doctor and was told to stick with the drug. My numbers meant he might even increase the dose. I wasn’t happy. 😞 How could I walk any distance as bad as I felt? How could I improve my situation now?

So I made an action plan. I called my acupuncturist and got an appointment the next morning. Then ordered a recumbent exercise bike online. I changed the TV news channel to stream funny videos. And swore off of caffeine. 

At my appointment the next morning, I talked with my acupuncturist about ways to reduce Metoprolol’s unpleasant side effects. 

Later at home, I reviewed the DASH Diet my long-time partner followed years ago. It promotes eating:

  • fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy foods
  • unsaturated fats
  • whole-grain products, fish, poultry, and nuts 
  • foods rich in magnesium, potassium, and calcium
I already prefer low-fat dairy foods and whole-grain bread. There's little room for me to improve there. Since drinking green or oolong teas are beneficial, I'll switch from coffee and diet soda to unsweetened tea. The test will be to manage the salt in the commercial foods I eat, having stocked up weeks ahead because of COVID-19. And there's my favorite pass time, eating out.

My immediate plan is: Eliminate coffee and cola drinks. Add my exercise bike to my walking routine when it arrives. Lose 10 lbs. And turn off cable news TV more.

I’ve worked very hard to adhere to COVID-19 guidelines. To let hypertension defeat me isn’t an option. This is my plan and I’m sticking to it. For now.

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