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Something more serious

March 28, 2009

It’s kind of embarrassing to be a seemingly healthy 25 year old female on blood pressure medication.  Particularly as a person who thinks that medications like that are basically American’s failure to live a healthy lifestyle–essentially a crutch of a failing system (cynical much?).  But late last year, after several trips to the doctor with scary high blood pressure readings, I agreed to temporarily go on blood pressure/anxiety meds (Propranolol to be exact), to try and trick my body into keeping my heart from going off the charts.

After about a month on the medication, my readings were still high when I went into the doctor, so I decided to start taking my blood pressure at home on a daily basis, halfway convinced that my blood pressure probably wasn’t as high as they thought when taken correctly (no talking for 1/2 hour before, sitting in the correct position, not having someone ask you questions while you’re having the reading done, etc).

So I borrowed my mom’s cuff and started charting my daily BP using the American Heart Association’s Heart 360 Program.  And yup–my readings at home were around the mid 120s over mid 60s.  Not great, but not the your-heart-is-going-to-pop high readings I’d had in the doctor’s office.  But then again, I was being medicated so who was I to say that they weren’t right, and that it wasn’t just the medication talking.  So like any responsible patient I stopped taking the medication for a few days and while my blood pressure didn’t go up, it didn’t go down either.

But since it didn’t go up, and the readings weren’t really going down on the medication, I decided that I’d try something new–actually changing my lifestyle a bit.  I started keeping track of my exercise to make sure I was getting at least the minimum recommended thirty minutes, five days a week.  I also started being very conscious of cooking lots of whole grains (oatmeal, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, etc), using salt very sparingly, I stopped drinking almost entirely, and I’m rarely drinking caffeine.  After a month of lifestyle changes, I was regularly getting blood pressure readings in the 110-120/60-65 range.  Acceptable.  So I stopped taking my blood pressure daily, but kept up with the changes.*

Just to check-in with myself I took my blood pressure twice this week and got 112/64 on the 23rd, and today I got 103/60.  My lowest overall bp yet!

This isn’t meant to be encouragement for others out there to stop taking their medications, but I feel pretty silly for thinking that medication was the answer to something that clearly needed to be a lifestyle change as well.  Plus I actually feel proud of myself for taking care of my body and not having a doctor “fix” me with medications that wouldn’t have been a long-term solution anyway (you can’t take them while you are pregnant, for example).

So take that all with a grain of salt (except pass on the salt–that stuff will kill you).

*As a side note, I still eat crap occasionally–like the entire bag of malted milk ball eggs I’ve consumed over the last week.  And the hamburger I ate a few days ago.  But generally speaking–my diet is solid.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. March 28, 2009 11:34 pm

    Well congrats, you’ve got some stong will-power to make a lifestyle change keep up with it!!

    I have had high blood pressure for the past couple of years w/ no real help from doc’s, luckily one decided to change my bc pills and recommended taying away from decongestants (which I took reguarly since anthistamines did nada for me) and I’m doing so much better now!! I’m glad that you are doing better and have the will power to do what you need to do 🙂

  2. March 29, 2009 4:13 pm

    I went the other day to get a physical, and for the first time ever I had a high bp reading…. 130/80. I asked the nurse what was normal and she said 120/80 which is typically what I used to read.

    But now that I read this, I am shocked with how low your rating was (103/60). Is that normal? What is normal even? lol

    Congrats on changing your lifestyle though. The doctor gave me a prescription for exercise. 30 minutes a day. I’m happy to see someone else was able to be succesful at it. It’s inspiring.

  3. March 30, 2009 8:30 pm

    Yay! My dad lowered his blood pressure exclusively through meditative breathing exercises (he’s always been in really good shape and had a healthy diet). Also, I’m drinking that garlic lemon tea I somehow got from you (though not directly I think?) in an effort to destroy the cold that is threatening me, and it is so, so unpleasant, but also incredibly effective. Yay no pills!

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