February is American Heart Month, and February 2nd is National Wear Red Day. This is an important time for us to all stop and ask ourselves: Do I Know My Numbers?
You may be thinking that you are young and healthy, and that high blood pressure is something that affects old people! Maybe you are young, healthy, eat right, and workout regularly, but high blood pressure can affect anyone.
I was diagnosed with high blood pressure when I was 20 years old. At that time, I had zero risk factors, was at my healthiest weight, and was in good shape.
I went to the doctor because I had a sinus infection. When I was there, my blood pressure was elevated. They chalked it up to the fact that I’d been taking decongestants, but they sent me home with a blood pressure machine and a tracking chart “just in case”. Well, it turned out that it wasn’t the medicine I’d been taking.
My pressure was consistently elevated.
It didn’t matter if I was sick, well, relaxed, or stressed; it was higher than it should have been. After undergoing what felt like every test known to medical science to rule out a cause for my high blood pressure, it turned out there was no reason. It was just the way my body was running. If I hadn’t gotten that sinus infection, and hadn’t had a cautious doctor, it could have been missed for years.
Fast forward to 17 years later.
I’ve only been a mom for six months, and I can see how easy it is to let self-care slide. Skipping wellness checks for myself can happen easily, and forgetting my medication happens more often than I’d like to admit. But if I don’t take care of myself, how can I take care of my little guy?
Unfortunately, many of us only go to the doctor when we are sick, so we may get an elevated reading “because we are sick”. Or, going to the doctor makes us nervous, and the doctor believes an elevated reading is the result of those nerves (this is an actual thing called white coat syndrome). However, if you get an elevated reading, I encourage you not to accept it at face value. Get a monitor (you can get one on Amazon for about $25) and check your blood pressure now and then to be sure that you don’t have elevated numbers. If you do, schedule an appointment, and talk to your doctor ASAP.
The consequences of high blood pressure and heart disease can be devastating to your body. So, I encourage you to be the best mom you can to your children by taking care of yourself and knowing your numbers! And please wear red on Friday, February 2nd to encourage others to do the same!
Curious about what your numbers should be? The American Heart Association has great resources for women regarding heart disease: https://www.goredforwomen.org/