About six years ago, when I was drinking, smoking, slightly overweight and not getting enough exercise, my blood pressure reached 140/90. It came down during those periods when I had a dry January and once dropped much lower when Caroline and I were dancing to a Wii thingy for a month, but was still in the range now designated as pre-high blood pressure. My reading of it subsequently was intermittent – probably because I really did not want to know – but I do recollect it went up again when I went back on the booze and lack of exercise.
Stopping smoking brought it down a bit and, over the last five years as I’ve steadily given up booze and got a lot more exercise, it dropped further. However, it still stubbornly remained in the pre-high range. Usually it lingered around 130/80. This was despite going on frequent 7 mile walks and hitting the gym for 2 or 3 hours a week.
About ten months ago I went to the doctor (worried about chest pains that turned out to be the result of a pulled muscle through weight training) and he checked my pressure. It was higher than the readings I got at home, but I noted that he had the wrong cuff for my size of arm. Also referring to my record and a cholesterol test I had many years before, he opined I was on the edge of problems, and suggested statins. I of course read up on statins and ignored his advice. I did not see the point of risking all sorts of unpleasant side effects for a microscopic, positive effect seen in highly-debateable and heavily-biased drug company clinical trials.
Over last year I was still in that pre-high range, though venturing into ideal on occasion – normally the diastolic pressure what with readings like 125/75. At this point I told myself, oh well, I’m getting old so have to expect this. However, while fasting, my pressure started to come down more and more. Within about 3 weeks of two-day fasts each week (exercise continuing) both systolic and diastolic were venturing into the ‘ideal’ range. It is now, after seven weeks, firmly there with a reading of 117/69 this morning.
I’m feeling smug.
Note: After a recent conversation I am reminded that while I was suffering from anxiety and panic attacks, my doctor also wanted to put me on the SSRI anti-depressant Citalopram. This was utterly contraindicated because my problems were the result of a delayed grief effect I needed to push through. With that I also looked at the side effects, the trials and people’s experiences with the drug and decided fuck no. There you see it: if I’d meekly done as I was told I would probably be on anti-depressants and statins now, steadily in a decline that in fact can be delayed in a big way. ‘Consult your medical practitioner’ they tell us. We need to be thoroughly aware of the dangers of relying on doctors and their big pharma pushers.