High Blood Pressure
Last month I was told by my doctor that I have high blood pressure. This was one of those slightly shocking yet somewhat expected moments if you can imagine that. It was somewhat expected because high blood pressure, or hypertension, runs in my family. My mother and father are both currently taking prescription medication to control theirs, as are both of my paternal grandparents. Yet the news was still a bit of a surprise, given that I'm not even thirty years old yet.
I always knew there might come a day when I would need to watch my sodium intake or adjust my diet to avoid having high blood pressure, and I have been aware that I may have to take a pill for it one day. I just assumed that day would come in my fifties, like it did for my dad, or in my seventies like it did for my grandma. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be taking blood pressure medicine at twenty-eight years old. Life's funny that way, I guess.
In many cases of high blood pressure, the person does not experience any symptoms at all or, perhaps, does not realize what they are experiencing is due to hypertension. In fact, thirty percent of all people with high blood pressure do not even realize they have it, which is why it is so important to get regular checkups by your doctor.
What first got me to wake up and pay attention to changes in my body, was an increase in my migraines. I've been a migraine sufferer for fifteen years but, after the birth of my second son in January of 2008, my migraines had all but stopped. I went from getting one a month to one every six months if not a year. Then, all of a sudden in December of last year, they struck again.
At first, I didn't think much of it. I figured maybe I'd had too much caffeine recently or was just stressed out more (it was the holidays, after all). But, when they kept coming and I found myself rarely without a headache that lasted all day, I figured it was time to see the doctor.
That was about the time I started noticing other syptoms as well. It all came to a head one night when I began having distortions in my vision, similar to those that usually accompanied my migraines, along with numbness and a strange disconnected feeling, like my head was in a bubble. I hadn't yet connected it all but the week or so prior, I hadn't been sleeping good at night, I was frustrated and irritated all the time and I couldn't think clearly or get my words out the way I wanted to. So, I did what I always do when something seems off health wise, I called my dad. No, he's not a doctor nor does he have any medical training whatsoever but he's still the one I call.
He was the one who asked about my blood pressure. The thought had crossed my mind that perhaps, in that very moment, my blood pressure could be up. I chalked it up to stress and caffeine again. He came over and checked it with his cuff and, sure enough it was high. 146 was the top number. Sorry I can't remember the bottom. In all my life, my BP has never left the 120's. Until now.
I got into the doctor later that week and, after checking my blood pressure and pulse twice and having three tubes of blood drawn and an EKG and an MRI of my brain, I was left with the diagnosis of hypertension. The big H. I got a prescription that day for a high blood pressure medicine and left feeling scared and nervous. As far as I knew in that moment, my life had changed forever and I was never going to be able to stop taking the medicine i now held in my hands.
Of course, once I got home and did what I usually do when I have questions about something, research, I felt a little better about some things. I may not have to be on the meds for the rest of my life. Since I'm catching it early, I can do things like adjust my diet and lifestyle to better control my blood pressure myself. I'm learning about what I can and can't eat and how to notice when it might be going up. I've read about ways to calm myself and avoid stress and now plan to share everything I am learning.
More to Come
As I learn more, myself, I plan to share with others how to better control your blood pressure through diet and exercise as well some great stress reducing techniques. I still have some more research to do but I will posting links to those hubs here as soon as they are completed.
Having high blood pressure seemed like it was going to be challenging and scary but, thankfully, it hasn't been. While I haven't completely revamped my diet, I have put a few small changes into effect and I barely even notice them. My prescription is working and I haven't experienced any of my symptoms from before, including the migraines, since I started taking it.
I hope this hub can help ease your mind a little about high blood pressure, or at least reduce some of the stress!
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