- Diseases, Disorders & Conditions
Beware High Blood Pressure-It will Kill You & You Won't See It Coming
Type A Aortic Dissection - The Silent Killer
It’s often referred to as the “silent killer” and it’s only by some form of divine intervention that it didn’t kill me.
I’m talking about high blood pressure.
According to recent estimates, nearly one in three adults in the industrial nations is likely to have high blood pressure, but because there are no symptoms, nearly one-third of these people don't know they have it. In fact, many people have high blood pressure for years without knowing it. The only way to tell if you have high blood pressure is to have your blood pressure checked.
Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to stroke, heart attack, heart failure or kidney failure. Hence high blood pressure is often called the "silent killer."
As I got into my forties I very occasionally chanced to get my blood pressure checked. It was usually on the high side. I would usually say things like “well I have ‘white coat syndrome’ so of course it is high. It’s always high when taken by a doctor”. And in fact if I had it taken at the local chemist it was usually a bit lower, so I wasn’t worried. Besides I didn’t want to be taking tablets for the rest of my life!
I didn’t go to the doctor very often. I was healthy and never had the need. I didn’t smoke, only drank now and then. However, on the rare occasions that I did visit the doctor, he would point out that I may be healthy but I certainly wasn’t fit!
Anyway this particular doctor was so concerned about me that after I left the district he sent me a prescription for blood pressure tablets!
I took them for a while, but I couldn’t see the point. OK, so my blood pressure may be a bit high, but I felt fine. There was nothing wrong with me. I had no symptoms. Hardly ever went to see a GP.
One night I drove home from work. I had been working a late shift so I got home around midnight. Had a glass of wine, checked my emails, as you do…………
First it was just awareness. The beautiful smiling face of my wife, brightly coloured in a sea of gray. It seems we had been talking for a while, though I don’t know what I had said. Penny’s voice is full of love and joy and encouragement.
I have no context to put it in so I just accept it in the now. There is only now. I have no past. The future is not contemplated. I see my daughter’s face and hear words of love, joy and encouragement. I am doing exceptionally well. With regards to what, I wonder? I gradually become aware of the ICU bed and the tubes and the wires and the oxygen mask. And it is all so normal. I’ve always been like this.
I had suffered an aortic dissection. It had been caused by years of high blood pressure. The main blood vessel serving my vital organs had split and was blocking the blood supply and my aortic valve was damaged. But by some miracle I was alive.
The fact that I am writing this piece is one of a series of miracles.
The fact that my youngest daughter was visiting us, sleeping on the lounge but not asleep and heard me fall is a miracle. The fact that I made alive to the hospital was a miracle as well as a testament to the skills of the paramedics who kept me alive. The fact that I survived the eight hour operation is another miracle and a testament to the skills of the surgeons and medical staff. The fact that I was found in time, survived the journey to the hospital, the operation and had no brain or organ damage is another miracle. I am very lucky. Most are not.
I am now on four different blood pressure tablets and will be for the rest of my life. However long that is!
Because my vascular system is weakened and damaged, I have to make sure that I average a blood pressure of less than 120/70 and I get yelled at if I pick my grandchildren up because that sort of muscular activity increases blood pressure.
But then, at least I am still here to be yelled at!
As you get older, keeping blood pressure in check is fundamental if you want a long and happy life.
The moral is, take your blood pressure seriously. Get some high blood pressure fact, buy yourself a BP meter, talk to your doctor, be proactive. It’s your life.
Prevention is simple. The results of ignorance often can only be rectified by divine intervention.
I think that a part of every first aid kit should be a blood pressure monitor. They are very easy to operate and the home ones are quite inexpensive.
What is your blood pressure now?