Monica, aged 60, returned to college in her 40’s to undertake a course in pre paramedic care. Through the course, the students were paired up in groups of two to check each other’s blood pressure. While Monica’s partner failed to get a normal reading a number of times, he alerted the tutors to something being wrong. “He thought something was wrong with the machine because the readings were all high, and getting higher”, Monica said.
The tutor recommended Monica see her GP, and following an appointment she was diagnosed with high blood pressure and was put on medication.
“What they said went in one ear and out the other. I didn’t realise the importance of blood pressure, so I used to take my medication at random times.”
After suffering from upper back pain consistently each day for approx three weeks , and having a previous record for bulging disks, Monica saw her consultant who said the pain wasn’t back related. The consultant contacted her GP and suggested that the problem may be cardiac.
Monica’s GP sent her for an ECG which returned clear, but after later suffering more painful episodes with her back, Monica went to the emergency department.
The emergency doctor told her that her blood pressure was very high and although Monica was adamant she was going home the Doctor promised if a stress test was ok, she could go home. However, the stress test result didn’t have the result Monica wanted, which resulted in her being admitted to hospital that evening.
Monica underwent an angiogram and was told one artery was fully blocked. She received a stint and now takes cardiac medication.
Recently Monica again went to A&E feeling unwell and was told her blood pressure was very high. Her blood pressure medication was then modified to help control it. Monica feels this shows the importance of regular check ups even when taking blood pressure medication.
She has also made a number of lifestyle changes, including reducing salt, reducing alcohol intake, managing stress and using a home blood pressure monitor.
“You can manage high blood pressure and live a bit longer. If I didn’t go to A&E that day or find out I had high blood pressure, the outcome could have been much worse.”
Monica said: “My dad had high blood pressure. He had a heart attack age 42, and was later due for a bypass but had another fatal heart attack at 54.
“There was history within his family of heart disease and high blood pressure. If high blood pressure is in your family, you need to get it checked. I’ve told both my daughters to get it checked.”