Sunday, January 23, 2011

A Quick Review on Hypertension

When I found out that my mama and papa have hypertension, I really researched about it.  I even studied BS Nursing and finished a 6-month nursing assistance course to really have a deep understanding of the disease.  And I told myself, “I’ll take care of them as they grow old.”

I learned that hypertension, more commonly known to us as high blood pressure, and to further simplify it, is a condition when you have sustained elevated blood pressure of 140/90 or higher.

Blood pressure varies from one person to another.  What is normal for me may not be normal for my papa or mama.  Age, obesity, diet, stress, physical activity and even race are the factors affecting blood pressure.

I also prepare my parents' meal chart.  Before, I was like, “Don’t eat this.  Don’t eat that.  Avoid this and avoid that.”  But I learned that the secret was moderation.  They can still eat chicharon (fried pork skin) and other fried and salty foods but in minimal amounts accompanied with proper exercise daily.  But diet focuses on low cholesterol and low sodium intakes.

The medicines?  Oh, I leave it to their respective doctors but I still search on its use, the side effects, drug interactions, (haha, OC?).

I even mastered the art of taking blood pressure using the sphygmomanometer (not the digital one).  We monitor it everyday as per their doctors’ requests and as necessary.

And until now, I still do my part.  I talk to other people on how they deal with hypertension.  What’s their story?  How it affected their lives?  What are the other illnesses they have associated with hypertension?  Because as I said, “Blood pressure varies from one person to another.”

Now, here’s one of my interviews with this 33-year-old woman, well-known to me as she is also a blogger, who has hypertension.  She has two lovely kids and is a stay-at-home mom who also loves scrapbooking.  I got the chance to interview her last Saturday after having lunch around Makati area.  I had a great time interviewing her as she’s so bubbly.
She is somewhere here in this group.

Let us just call her Mrs. Ariel.

After giving birth to her second child, she was diagnosed by her doctor with pregnancy-induced hypertension.  She was only 31 years old then.  I was really surprised that kind of condition exists.  It was my first time to hear about it.

Look, we may not really know what can cause hypertension.  In her case, she developed her hypertension during her pregnancy.

I then asked her what was her blood pressure (BP) before being diagnosed?  Mrs. Ariel said she has a normal level of 110/80, then it went up to 150/100.  That’s really high.  But compared to my mama and papa, they range from 140-200 over 100-120.  Mrs. Ariel added her BP’s normal level right now is 130/100.

For a clearer picture, a young healthy person’s normal blood pressure is 120/80.  In normal adults, blood pressure varies from 110-140 mmHg over 75-80 mmHg.

How about her lifestyle before being diagnosed?  Well, she admittedly replied, “I eat everything.  I don’t exercise.”  But good thing, she doesn’t consider drinking or smoking.

Some of us might not know that lifestyle factors such as smoking, obesity, high-cholesterol diets, and stress contribute to hypertension.

Mrs. Ariel told me that she has already lessened her carbohydrate intake, particularly white rice.  She shares with me that she is a meat lover and hardly eats vegetables.  And she thinks this way of living triggered your hypertension.

This happily-married woman also believes that hypertension is genetic because hypertensiveness runs in their family.  According to her, almost all of her family members have high blood pressure, from her grandmother to her parents to her aunts and cousins.

As hypertension is hereditary, she is also worried that her two kids might suffer from the condition, too.  But she hopes that they will not.  She iterates, “My husband has no hypertension, and it doesn’t run in their family.  Even my 70-year-old and 71-year-old mother-in-law and father-in-law, respectively, have no hypertension.  Good thing my kids are trained to eat what is served in our table.  My kids love fruits.

I also did not know that she was confined last June due to high blood pressure and high blood sugar levels.  She is still young and she still plans for a bigger family.  But she is unsure now if she still wants to get pregnant because her doctors have warned her about eclampsia, a condition caused by having high blood pressure during pregnancy.

And after being diagnosed, these are the antihypertensive medicines that she takes over the years:  Lipitor, metformin, and Janumet.  I also found out that she is allergic to the blood thinner, aspirin.  To some people, aspirin is a great help to lessen high blood pressure.  But in her case, she will get facial inflammation whenever she takes it.

Here’s the sad part, she only takes her medication if she only needs it.  She says she is supposed to take those maintenance drugs twice a day.  She’s like my mama who only takes her meds if she feels something wrong with her system.  My papa is more medicine compliant than her.

Six months ago, Mrs. Ariel also considered taking herbal medicines for her high blood pressure such as Circulan, Liveraid, and Heartvit.  “I wanted to try and see if it works,” she said.

Then another question popped again in my mind.  As I said, she is also a blogger so I asked her if she uses the available technology (the Internet) to get more information on hypertension.  She said that she does not trust anything she read online.  If she needs to search anything medical, she would go to the trusted WebMD.

Getting all the information about hypertension from her doctors and even from the internet, somehow her lifestyle and habits have been changed.  Having the hypertension for two years, she already learned how to manage her stress levels which is also a cause of having high blood pressure.

See?  Different people have different approach to the disease.  Mrs. Ariel is like my mom who only takes her meds if she feels unusual.  My dad is more drug compliant than my mom and Mrs. Ariel.  My interviewee does eat less carbs, my parents do love rice.  Interviewee does not drink while my dad drinks beer almost everyday (because he believes to the medical studies that a beer or a red wine a day can help lower blood pressure.)

Although taking antioxidants and exercising more may lessen some of the damage, I think old habits die hard.

And if we only think that elderly people are the ones who only suffer hypertension, nowadays, it’s not.  Even a young obese child I saw on TV suffers from hypertension.  When a man or woman suffers from hypertension, it is life-changing not just from him or her but also for the family who care about them.

Now, start giving your heart a longer and healthier life.


  1. we should be more conscious about our health now, ore than anything.hayz! nice post ann.

  2. thanks ning!

    yes, we really should be. Actually, I am more concern on my family's health than I. Dahil informed ako, alam ko kung paano alagaan ang sarili ko... sana ang government din gumawa ng way para ma-inform ang mga tao... information dissemination kung baga...

  3. Great post Ann.I do monitor my parents health condition especially about that disease.I do however, tell them to take in herbal medicines as an alternative because no medicine have been "proven" to cure such.It's a traitor disease!

  4. you're definitely right sis. We should take extra care of our health lalo na sa mga pagkain na kinakain natin. I'm also aware of my health now kasi most of my family members and relatives died from hypertension.

  5. hi mark!

    really? you do encouraged them to take herbal medicines? i heard that garlic helps lower the blood pressure...

    how about surfing the net about certain disease that might affect your family?

  6. hi kayce!

    it's good that you monitor your food intake now... a lot of organic foods around the metro... but we still can find the healthiest ones on our backyard...

    actually sis they don't die because of hypertension... they die because of the complications... like mark said it's a traitor disease... a silent killer

  7. very informative!! keep it up..really nice post