‘I had high blood pressure at 21’

Living with high blood pressure

Both my mum and dad died of high blood pressure-related illnesses, my mum of a stroke and my dad of a heart attack. So I knew it might run in my family.

But I never imagined I’d have high blood pressure at 21. I felt absolutely fine and cycled everywhere, but during a routine doctor’s appointment my GP discovered my blood pressure was 160/100. Normal is about 140/90. It was high enough to be a problem, if I didn’t do something about it.

My doctor advised me to look at my lifestyle and, when I did, I realised it might not be as healthy as I’d first thought. I was a student and ate lots of ready meals, which can be high in salt.

Luckily, my boyfriend was a really good cook. So we started cooking fresh foods from scratch. I cut down on alcohol and made sure I exercised regularly, all in an attempt to reduce my high blood pressure.

My doctor also prescribed me diuretics, to help my kidneys get rid of extra salt. After a while, my blood pressure lowered to a much better level, so I tried coming off all medication. But unfortunately, it shot up again. I’m now taking things called ACE inhibitors, that prevent certain hormones from being released and open up the blood vessels.

I’ll probably be on some form of medication for the rest of my life. But other than that, I don’t really notice my high blood pressure. As long as I stay healthy, I feel fine.
Rebecca, 31, Leeds

For more information and advice, visit www.bpassoc.org.uk