I’d spent years tricking the nurses at work that I didn’t have high blood pressure. It was normally a case of sitting in a chair for five minutes and re doing the test. That would bring it down to a level that wouldn’t have them packing me off to the doctors.
I guess I was in denial of my situation, my weight gain over the years was starting to cause me problems but rather than do something about it I was trying to cover it up. I can now see this in a lot of blokes, women to a lesser extent. A couple of flights of stairs would leave me breathless where I used to have no problem with eight to ten flights.
As I piled the weight on at the same time I slowed my life down to a crawl. This was the perfect recipe for a heart attack or a stroke. I’m pretty sure I was heading down the road to Diabetes and all that entails. But still I wasn’t doing anything about it.
I was sent to works nurse for my annual medical. The thing was it was the first one in five years so things had not been picked up when it could have been. My blood pressure was sky high and sitting down for five minutes didn’t work this time. It was then trended over the next couple of weeks and I was packed off to see my GP at the earliest opportunity.
The trip to the GP was a bit of a shock but not enough for me to really turn my life around. I was prescribed beta blockers to lower my blood pressure which they did but I was on 100mg of Attenolol and it’s powerfull stuff. It needed to be as I was 21 stone. I wasn’t happy to be told I was probably going to be on it for the rest of my life.
Now that the system has captured me the blokish fear of the doctors proves to be unfounded and I’m left wondering what it was all about. The blood pressure is under control as long as I keep taking the tablets but still the root cause has not been addressed. Mainly my weight and lifestyle.
So I took up cycling as my form of exercise and started what I thought was healthy eating. I lost 10kg in about 15 months and then plateaued. Tried Bennecol and other plant sterols to lower the cholesterol but was at a loss what to do next.
I’d turned down the Lifestyle and Weight Management Course twice. Once was foolish but twice leaves me feeling that that 15 months was wasted. Febuary 17th was the day I looked in the mirror one morning and thought I can’t go on like this. What I saw was an absolute mess. I was 122 Kg and although the beta blockers were probably stopping me having a heart attack I was doing nothing to help my situation.
I hated my time on beta blockers when I realised what the side effects were and the action in which they control your blood pressure. The main side effect was cold hands and feet but once I started to exercise another one started to disturb me. Attenolol limits your maximum heartrate and I had this strange sensation last year when cycling up the climb out of NantMill that I had hit the buffers. I was on the limit, struggling but felt I could do more but my body wouldn’t let me. I stopped at the top out of breath for a good 30 seconds.
Trying to get off them was the next priority as they were starting to limit what I could do. They are said to take 20-30 BPM off your heartrate by limiting the addrenalinyou produce. Since I’d embraced this new exercise routine it was starting to come into conflict with what I wanted to do, which was find out what my maximum potential was.
Since coming off Atenolol the difference is marked. I’m now on Ramipril 5mg which is an Ace Inhibitor and has a totally different mechanism than Atenollol. Getting off Atenolol wasn’t easy as it meant proving to the medical profession that I had things under control but I was nearly 8 stone lighter than when they prescribed it to me. Once I was off it things improved within a month. It was a noticable difference.
I wish I’d been given the following booklet a long time ago now. Your GP hasn’t the time to educate you about blood pressure and being on prescription but still overweight isn’t tackling the root cause IMHO.
Below is a link to a PDF of a useful British Heart foundation booklet.