When Anil Ghosh, a patient at the hospital I work at, had a comprehensive corporate health check up five years back, he was perfectly all right with an enviable presence and a perfect BMI (Body Mass Index). But then, things changed drastically. Ghosh suffered a heart attack a year later and required angioplasty to fix the block. Although he was much better after that, he was quite intimidated by the whole episode, so much so that he apparently stopped smoking, cut out fatty food, avoided late nights and stopped drinking. These indulgences had been an integral part of his business ever since he stepped into the whopping corporate world. The fact that now he had normal blood pressure and a relatively good health status since his heart attack 4 years ago, authenticated his belief that he was normal. His annual consultation with the cardiologist, however, was long overdue and he was anxious to get it over with, mostly for the sake of accomplishing yet another assignment that was in his schedule in a fortnights' time. This would reaffirm his physical status and give a green signal, he thought.
Conversely, the cardiologist was not happy at all! Ghosh had met him briefly at a party where the doctor had complimented him on his agility. This had made him complacent. A heart patient needs to have more awareness of his condition. While he kept updating me on the things he was doing and not doing, I told him that he just couldn't afford to miss the BP medication ever! He finally got around to fixing an appointment with the cardiologist, but then missed his medicines the same morning. The cardiologist, a very composed man otherwise, nearly snapped at him. How could he not take his medicines! Ghosh was prompt in his amateurish explanation, which made the cardiologist ever more furious. He explained, once he gathered his composure, that hypertensive patients should take the usual dose of medicines before coming for routine monitoring. This would help in the right assessment of BP and would eventually ensure prescription of a proper dose.
To add to this, Ghosh was not regular with his daily walking routine, and did occasionally indulge in smoking and late nights. Moreover, he had been having untimely and light business lunches most of the days. The cardiologist drilled it into him, that he was heading for disaster and at this rate was surely heading for another heart attack! Ghosh on the other hand, thought that he was just doing the right thing! After all, he was mostly punctual with medicines, did not eat much, looked relatively young and was a good sport among his colleagues!
190/100 was his BP, to be precise. The cardiologist categorically warned him yet again, focusing on the irreversible effects. This time Ghosh was an intent listener and he listened without cutting him short. He never knew that a person, once hypertensive, is always hypertensive and he had to admit it, no matter what. Most people are in self denial, and would not accept it. However, accepting and going for the right kind of treatment, at the right time, would be a wise move, anytime.
Anil Ghosh is not alone. All through my career in a hospital, I have come across a lot of people, who are like him. Be it the topmost customs officer or a small time cultivator - the awareness is too little and too late. Educating people, therefore, becomes the topmost priority.
Ghosh had learnt a good lesson that day. On his way back, he kept leafing through the points he had to remember all through his life time. He had to live with it no matter what.
1# Once a hypertensive, always a hypertensive. Sooner the people realize this, better for treatment and control. Hypertension is a leading cause of heart disease, so it's advisable to keep it at bay all the time.
2# Less than 120/80 is the ideal blood pressure. Anything above this will require lifestyle modification and proper medical intervention. Appropriate treatment eliminates the life-threatening sequel of hypertension like heart failure, renal failure, paralysis, etc.
3# Treatment of hypertension calls for lifestyle modification and proper dose of medication which only a good physician can prescribe. Life style modification includes a proper health regime like changing eating and food habits, and keeping physically fit by regular exercise and workouts.
4# The ideal diet for a hypertensive is low in fat, low in simple carbohydrates and low in salt food. Basically, the aim should be to eliminate sugar, sweets, butter and fast & fried food.
5# Smoking triggers hypertension by pushing up blood pressure levels and heart rate, by releasing adrenaline. So just quit tobacco - there is no better time than now.
6# Learning to manage stress at the office and home is very important. Work schedules should be interlaced with regular periods of rest and relaxation. Taking regular breaks from work and using this quality time to rest, relax and pursue a hobby is a great thing to do. Any hobby pursued during such breaks or vacations like photography, hill trekking, painting, etc. works wonders.
Managing any disease is not a destination; it's a journey which has to be lived day in and day out, incessantly with tolerance and a cheerful mind. So, good luck! We all a have a long way to go, let's live it to the fullest.