Six weeks after giving birth to my second child, the nurse looked up at me, horrified and asked, “You don’t’ have high blood pressure, do you?” The nurse would know better than anyone as she had diligently monitored my blood pressure over the course of two pregnancies. However, her shock had prompted the concern on her face and in her question.
My blood pressure is, on average, in the ‘prehypertension’ range (I know this because I was recently prescribed a blood pressure monitor and I check it a few times a week), but many times will creep into the high end of the ‘normal blood pressure’ range and sometimes, into the dreaded ‘high blood pressure’ category. The prehypertension category ranges between 120/80 (systolic/diastolic) to 139/89. Prior to giving birth to my second daughter, no one ever asked me if I had high blood pressure. Why? Because I didn’t’ have high blood pressure. So what in the entire wide world has happened to my circulatory system?
No one can give me a definitive answer, but this is the conclusion for many people with blood pressure issues. The usual factors include genetics, poor diet, exercise (or lack there of), too much alcohol, smoking, high salt intake and age. I’ve always understood that I am genetically prone to high blood pressure; therefore, I’ve always been disciplined about my lifestyle choices (I have the results of a recent physical exam to prove that I am in excellent health…minus the little blood pressure problem. **Sigh**).
To say the least, I am devastated by the news. How can I, of all people, have high blood pressure? My husband, who doesn’t exercise and whose diet could benefit from an increase in vegetables/fruits, has a blood pressure comfortably in the ‘normal’ range while I teeter on the boundaries of high blood pressure? Something about this whole thing just doesn’t seem right to me – it isn’t fair.
The worst part about this mystery is that at some point, my physician might prescribe high blood pressure medication to lower my blood pressure. I’ve never been anti-medicine/vaccine, etc; however, I’ve always felt that the first line of defense in maintaining good health comes in the form of food – real food. Plant-based food. While I am not the obsessed fanatic, I feel that I am conscious, careful and strategic about what we eat and how we eat it. What more can I do? Can I do more to cure my blood pressure with natural, food-based medications? Is the occasional glass of wine or trip to the Thai restaurant now fully prohibited?
You can imagine the internal conflict I feel (the added stress can’t possibly be helping my blood pressure, I know) regarding my blood pressure. While I sort through the pros and cons of blood pressure medication, I’ve decided to focus my efforts on eating more of the plants, vegetables and herbs that are known to lower blood pressure. Who knows what will happen. The saga continues. Stay tuned….