High Blood pressure in my mind is probably one of the most common factors leading to complications from Cardiovascular disease, including heart failure, coronary artery disease etc. Causes for elevated blood pressure include being overweight, eating too much salt and probably not getting enough exercise.
In the office it is very often impressive to see how a patient’s blood pressure drops after loosing a few pounds and walking 30-60 minutes a day without making any mediation changes. It is however also one of the more difficult things to do — to ask a person to change his lifestyle.
It takes a lot of effort for most of us to get up from the coach and walk around the block, but it is also amazing to experience the satisfaction of getting stronger, less short of breath with effort and the resulting sense of wellbeing!
Early in my career I once saw a man in his 40′s with young children, working very hard but not leaving any time for exercise. Over the years the weight started going up and he ended in the office one day after being seen in the ER for chest pain. Fortunately he did not have a heart attack, but he was found to have diabetes, and high blood pressure.
This was a wake-up call for this man who started on a healthy diet, limiting salt and walking 30 minutes per day. I saw how this man eventually had to stop his diabetes medication as well as blood pressure medicine because of the significant drop in both. What was very interesting was that his sugar and pressure started to drop after losing just a few pounds.
So in essence my observations are as follows:
1. Although medication is very effective in treating high blood pressure, the most effective and cheapest measure that can be taken are lifestyle changes as outlined above.
2. Benefits of exercise and diet are seen long before you reach your desired or ideal weight.
3. Do not spend money on equipment — taking brisk walks in your neighborhood is as effective as going to an expensive gym or using state-of-the-art equipment. You also become a good example for others to follow!
4. Take small steps at a time. Spend the first week or so by simply skipping second helpings, or walking a few minutes per day, gradually aiming for 30-60 minutes on most days of the week.
Making healthy choices not only makes the tests or blood pressure readings better — it adds quality to your life.
To implement this, what is the one small step that you can take today and can build upon?