About a year ago, my parents requested that I help them buy a portable, at-home blood pressure monitor so they could monitor their health conveniently and without having to go to a pharmacy or a doctor. I got one from Amazon and when I brought it over, I tested it on myself to show them how to use it. The unit I bought was really easy to read the results, along with the typical numbers used for blood pressure, it also colour-coded your results to green, yellow, and red. My result was in the yellow, which sorta surprised me.
I know blood pressure readings can be inaccurate at times and can vary depending on time of day, if you’ve been active right before the reading, and even your posture while doing the reading. I chalked it up to that and didn’t think anything of it.
That yellow result never really fully left my mind though. I left it to simmer in my memories and with some feet dragging a few months passed. One day, I just decided to get my own blood pressure monitor from Amazon. I needed good data to figure out if my worry warranted or not.
When my own monitor arrived, I read the instructions carefully. I followed them exactly so I would get a proper reading. I made sure I was sitting and not doing anything for about ten minutes before taking a reading. I made sure that any caffeine I had earlier had been many hours beforehand. I also ensured that my arms were on a table, feet flat on the ground.
I took three separate readings, to ensure nothing was weird about each reading. For my unit, there’s three levels of green, one level of yellow, and three levels of red. All three of my readings landed me in the middle level of red, which according to machine meant that I had “moderate hypertension”. Obviously that was not good.
At that point, I decided that I’d try to reduce the amount of sodium in my diet and try to get more exercise. I’d try that for thirty days and see if there was any change. If there wasn’t, I’d go talk to my family doctor.
Reducing the amount of sodium in my diet wasn’t really difficult. I tend to think that I have a reasonable amount of sodium in my diet but I tried really hard to cut it down even more. I do mealkits for a few days of the week and where the recipe called for added salt, I added none. When the recipe said to add ingredients that I knew had salt in it, I added half the amount. For processed or off the shelf food, I just made sure to look at the nutritional values and avoided super salty foods. I’d say that over the course of a month, almost every day had me under the suggested sodium consumption levels.
As for exercise, it’s my belief that I get quite a bit of it already. I lift weights every other day and I get cardio everyday. I try to get a walk in during the workday, almost five days a week. I felt like I didn’t need to do more, I just needed to continue to do it.
So a month went by and probably based on fear, I didn’t take any BP readings during the month. I wanted to be surprised, either in a good way or a bad one. I was hoping for the best but when I took the new readings, very little had changed. I was still hovering in the first two levels of the red section, which was not good.
I promised myself if nothing changed, I’d go talk to my doctor, so that’s what I did. We had an appointment over the phone and I gave him the numbers from the readings, before the thirty days and after. He decided that I needed medication immediately, so he prescribed me a diuretic, at the lowest possible dose. He explained to me this very common medication will pull sodium from my body and that’s how it’ll lower my blood pressure. I asked about side effects and he said that I might notice I’m urinating a bit more, which makes sense since the drug is a diuretic.
I’m supposed to take these meds for about two weeks, monitor my blood pressure every few days, and then report back to my doctor. I hope it works!