Monday, April 09, 2007

At the Heart of the Easter Holiday

With this past Easter weekend’s excessive egg-cracking and over-eating –a time when I gather with other members of my extended family (most of which are nurses or in the health profession) for a big family dinner of ham, scallop potatoes, Easter cheese, maple syrup, coffee, fruit, wine, doughnuts, crackers, dips, mustards, custards, pickles and olives, it got me thinking back about my recent adventure to Canadian Blood Services to donate blood when I discovered, to my surprise, that I had over-average blood pressure.

“Nearly 1 in 3 American adults has high blood pressure. Once high blood pressure develops, it usually lasts a lifetime." [1] Click here for link

Of course the indicators are no news to me. Maybe I was just nervous and I don’t really have high blood pressure (blood pressure naturally fluctuates). Maybe I’m just a hypochondriac. But I KNOW I’ve gotten a bit chunkier as of late, I’ve just recently quit smoking after TEN YEARS OF FEEDING MYSELF POISONS, and, well, I like to have a drink here or there, so the correlations are there, whether or not they’re a cause for poor health. It’s better to be safe than sorry. And if there’s an elephant in the room, I’m not going to ignore it.

“High” blood pressure is characterized by higher than 140/90 mmHg, which is your systolic (sis-STOL-ic) over your diastolic (di-as-STOL-ic) pressure. The systolic pressure is what I like to think of as the “Pa!” and the diastolic pressure as the “um” as if the heart is playing a backwards polka beat. The systolic is the pumping out of the blood and the diastolic pressure is the short rest between beats when the blood is being drawn back into the heart. Funny to think: in every heartbeat, there are, essentially, two. “Normal” blood pressure is characterized as between 120/80 when you are sitting around playing Xbox or listening to the BBC and about 140/90 when you’re running to catch a bus because you’re late for work. This information has implications to me.

Short story: I began to be concerned about my health. And considering the spring is coming and it is high time I made some lifestyle changes, I researched about my topic of fear, (aka the fear of heart attack, aneurysm, kidney failure, stroke, amputation or all of the above simultaneously) to overcome that too, with a little help from ‘the net.’

I browsed the internet for some comprehensive tips on how to lower my blood pressure, in order to improve my overall health, and I came across this site, full of good facts, fun quizzes and important tips about blood pressure:

Pitifully, I got a true/false answer wrong on the ‘limit your alcohol intake’ quiz, even after I had just read the section, answering: ‘true’ before properly reading the question, and omitting the “don’t” in:

“People with high blood pressure don't have to limit the amount of alcoholic beverages they drink.”

But after a second try I got it right, and I went on to ace the quiz! So I was no longer afraid of being tested for my knowledge of high blood pressure prevention OR treatment thereof.

So, considering it IS a serious issue, it’s your health!! and you probably don’t want to get high blood pressure for the rest of your life, go take a gander over at the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute [2] and find out whether there are any risks that you could avoid by applying some healthy lifestyle choices to elongate YOUR existence. Click here for link

UPDATE: It's not true that if you have high blood pressure now, you're stuck with it for the rest of your life. I went into Shopper's Drugmart where they have a self-initiated blood pressure test and lo and behold, I didn't have high pressure after all. My reading was 134/82 which is normal. The Pharmacist was very nice and impressed my resting pulse was a relaxed 60. In other words, I am basically a human clock. She told me "you can always lower your blood pressure" and encouraged me by saying it would continue to go down the longer I refrained from smoking, the healthier I ate and the more exercise I got.




Blogger Vesper said...

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11:24 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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10:34 a.m.  

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