Take the First Steps toward a Longer and Healthier Life

Posted by Mark Beaton on

September is “Self Improvement Month”, who knew?

If you are a Baby Boomer, there’s a good chance you’ve been diagnosed with hypertension, and 90% of us will develop hypertension over the next number of years. Hypertension is the leading risk factor for heart attack and stroke which accounted for over 66,000 deaths in Canada in 2018¹. (For reference, 9,093 people have died of COVID-19 as of Aug 18, 2020).

But unlike many illnesses, you can affect your risk and decrease your blood pressure. It absolutely can be done, and I’ve witnessed remarkable changes in only a few months in people who have made the commitment to reduce their blood pressure. Hypertension Canada describes these changes as “health behavior management” involving diet, exercise and weight loss.

A Model to Follow

I have a friend who is in his late 60’s, recently retired as an elite swim coach. His family doctor recommended anti-hypertension medications to lower his BP (which was very high, frequently 160/100 +). My friend begged his doc for time to prove he could lower his BP on his own to avoid going on the meds. In less than four months he brought his BP into the normal range (120/80)!

His first step was to start recording his BP levels a few times each day. He measured in the morning and evening daily and this routine provided feedback on his progress.

He modified his diet; eliminated fried and processed foods; reduced his sodium intake; ate more fruit and vegetables and limited refined sugars. He didn’t completely stop, but he drank less alcohol overall.

Although he exercised periodically in the past, he increased the frequency of his workouts. Interestingly, most of his workouts involved weight training (lifting weights), not cardiovascular exercise which is the normal recommendation.

He wasn’t significantly overweight at the outset, but he lost about 15lbs. over four months. Not his primary goal, but a nice side effect from diet and exercise.

After only four months, his doctor relented and agreed he wasn’t hypertensive anymore, the drug therapy was not necessary.

Reg would tell you it wasn’t a significant burden, but he obviously is a highly disciplined person and he was highly motivated to avoid going on medications he felt would have negative long term effects.

My point is that what seems like a bridge too far to cross, may very well be achievable. First, recognize that high blood pressure, although you can’t feel it, is a dangerous risk for heart attack and stroke. The meds work, but they aren’t a panacea either. “Commit to the Commitment” is the answer for many.

Reduce your BP; live a longer and healthier life.

Author: Mark Beaton, Sr. VP of Marketing BIOS Medical

Reference:

1. Statistic Canada, Leading Causes of Death by Age Group


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