A few weeks ago I went to get my blood pressure and cholesterol checked during National Know Your Numbers! campaign week. Being male, I’d not been to the doctor surgery for a long time (it’s full of sick people) and had no idea what my numbers would be. They turned out to be 139/87 which is only just below the threshold of diagnosing me with hypertension.
I’m not overweight. I don’t smoke. My job isn’t exactly stressful (most of the time at least). I start each day with a bowl of porage and blueberries. I drink one percent milk. I don’t add salt to my food or buy ready-to-eat meals – in fact, being pescatarian, I have a really good diet with brown rice, wholemeal bread and wholewheat pasta. I don’t like liquorice. I walk to-and-from work every day (a little over 2.5 miles) and get to the gym at least twice a week. I actually donate blood every three months. Which leaves me with the annoying conclusion of laying the blame squarely at the door of too much alcohol and caffeine.
I’ve already cut back to a coffee in the morning and a couple of cups of tea in the afternoon. I plan to further improve my diet: maybe look at plant sterols but definitely reduce my cheese intake, eat more walnuts and avocado. However, before anybody suggests it, I am not cutting back on eggs. The perpetual myth that they raise cholesterol levels has been proven time-after-time to be exactly that: a myth.
Which leaves me with the booze. I have FOMO (which is very different from being a faux mo). It’s a concept recently introduced to me. An acronym which stands for Fear Of Missing Out and herein lies the problem. In the next four weeks I have two leaving parties, a wedding, a couple of birthday parties and friends briefly returning from Australia. I’ll try and cut back on the sauce but realistically, I’m going to get blind drunk at least a couple of times.
All of these things aside, there is also another factor to consider when trying to get to the bottom of the reason for my raised blood pressure. One I can’t do anything about. Genetics. Both my father and grandfather died from heart problems. Although admittedly I don’t know what my HDL / LDL ratio was, my cholesterol was at 4.2 which, given my family history, could also do with coming down a little.