For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid,
but gives us power, love, and self-discipline.
(2 Timothy 1:7)
Eat well. √
Exercise daily. √
Get enough sleep. √
Minimize stress… Well I am pretty sure that I have my stress levels in check but to be perfectly honest with you, sometimes we think we are doing a good enough job of managing stress when in actuality we are not. We package and shelf it nice and neatly on the inside, and that is where it (the pressure) quietly does its dirty work. I’ll get back to the stress in a minute.
For about two months, maybe longer, I had experienced occasional headaches. Something I rarely get. The headaches were random, so I wasn’t too concerned. We have two blood pressures devices at home, so I started to occasionally take my pressure. First thing in the morning, before you start moving around is the best time to check your pressure; so that is what I did.
My average reading has always been in the area of 117/72.
- My readings were in the area of 180/99 and sometimes higher!!
Long story short, the diagnosis is hypertension.
Anyone who knows me will corroborate, I am a health, wellness and fitness devotee. Wellness is a way of life that I take pride in. I do all the right things–not to perfection–but enough to look and feel vibrant and to have excellent physical health.
So when the doctor confirmed my suspicion, I was crushed. Honestly, I think it was an ego thing. You know–
How is the wellness professional gonna tell somebody how to prevent hypertension, when she has it?
It comes down to pride. The fact is, I am genetically predisposed to hypertension. Family history prevails over my lifestyle.
Know your body. Be aware of what your normal is and be prepared to take immediate action (see a doctor) when your ordinary is out of sorts.
HYPERTENSION (High Blood Pressure)
What is HBP? The American Heart Association describes hypertension as,
When your blood pressure, the force of blood flowing through your blood vessels, is consistently too high.
How it works: Your circulatory systems carries oxygenated blood through your body. Your tissues and organs need the oxygenated blood.
When the heart beats, it creates pressure that pushes blood through a network of tube-shaped blood vessels, which include:
The pressure–blood pressure–is the result of two forces: The first force (systolic pressure) occurs as blood pumps out of the heart and into the arteries that are part of the circulatory system.
The second force, (diastolic pressure) is created as the heart rests between heart beats. The two forces are each represented by numbers in your blood pressure reading. My above reading is an example.
- Nearly half of American adults have high blood pressure. (Many don’t know they have it.)
- The best way to know if you have high blood pressure is to have your blood pressure checked.
- About 1 of 3 U.S. adults—or about 75 million people—have high blood pressure.1 Only about half (54%) of these people have their high blood pressure under control. (CDC)
- National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) reported the results of a study found where children consume between 1,300mg and 8,100mg of sodium a day. Those with the highest sodium intake were shown to be twice as likely to have elevated blood pressures compared to those with lower sodium intake.
The rainbow chart is courteous of the American Heart Association and provides guidelines for blood pressure. No two bodies are the same, so if you have concerns about hypertension, schedule an appointment with your doctor right away.
I kept a journal of my blood pressure to take with me to the doctor. I could not find a pattern to determine the cause of my spiked readings, but I knew the numbers were at dangerous levels. I knew that if untreated, I would be vulnerable to several serious conditions.
The consequences of uncontrolled blood pressure can include:
- Loss of consciousness
- Memory loss
- Heart attack
- Damage to the eyes and kidneys
- Loss of kidney function
- Aortic dissection
- Angina (unstable chest pain)
- Pulmonary edema (fluid backup in the lungs)
Initially, ego put me in denial mode. After all, I am Vegan. I eat clean, avoid sugary and salty foods. I exercise regularly, meditate, don’t smoke, and take excellent care of myself. Then– I got real with myself.
Girl, do you want to die? Do you want to have a stroke or heart attack? Don’t be foolish. Shelf the pride and take care of your health.
The reality is my mother has hypertension. I took it upon myself to discredit the hereditary factor because my mother defies the rules. She drinks (more than the recommended amounts), smokes and lives a sedentary life. But… she’s still kickin’ at 85-years old. The reality is, I might not be as lucky as my mom.
After thinking about the list of negative consequences, I got over myself and my smugness and called the doctor. Even the day I saw the doctor, my pressure was high. I was promptly put on medication. I take 5 mg daily, and the headaches have gone away. My BP readings decreased to my usual numbers.
Now back to that stress thing. From the outside, other people’s lives often appear perfect, but the truth is, no one escapes the trials and tribulations of life. If you follow this blog, you know, that nearly two years ago, I moved down south.
In person, almost always I sport a bright smile. Even when my day is challenged, if you ask me how I am, my response is usually positive. Since moving, I have faced a few unexpected hurdles but try not to whine about it. I understand that every experience has a season. I know that God is preparing me for the next season of my life, so every day I thank him for the abundance of blessing in my life. I continue to meditate, pray, seek positive solutions, and overindulge in the goodness in my journey. Without a doubt, my life is rich, and for that I am grateful!
So is stress the cause of my high blood pressure? Maybe. Probably not. I’m living, as I’ve been told, in a “Zen-like mode.” Lol!
My final thoughts for you are this:
- Listen to your body. Don’t ignore symptoms; they are signals that may save your life.
- You can do everything deemed “right” and still face health issues.
- Learn your family health history. Talk to relatives about health matters such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension, and mental illness. I don’t know if it’s a black thing or an older generation thing, but black folks don’t like talking about their health. They take ish straight to their grave.
- Don’t equate age with an illness such as hypertension. A CDC study shows that about 4% of youth aged 12–19 years have hypertension, and another 10% have elevated blood pressure (previously called “prehypertension”). CDC
“Your body holds deep wisdom.
Trust in it. Learn from it.
Watch your life transform and be healthy.”