Sunday, 25 November 2007

The Bloody Pressure...


An acquaintance I recently saw again said something the other day:-

"We have all been hearing about young people living with diabetes...But what about other supposedly 'old-people' diseases? Are there young people who live with it? What is it like getting these 'death sentences' early in life?"



I've been thinking about it...So, today, I'll tell you about something you don't read about often: An example of young people living with Hypertension...




Hypertension is called the silent killer for a reason...It is called the silent killer because there are often no symptoms, so most people don't realise they are suffering from it...By the time symptoms start to show, it might already be too late...





So what is sooo dangerous about hypertension? It is dangerous because it affects many vital organs (and systems) in the body, just like diabetes...Hypertension affects the heart, the kidneys, the eyes, the arteries, and the brain, just to name a few...



There are many people living with hypertension, and 90% of people suffering from hypertension have a condition known as Essential (or Idiopathic) Hypertension, which is a hypertension of unknown aetiology (reason)...But 10% of people suffer from something called Secondary Hypertension, which is a form of Hypertension caused by something else gone wrong...




Now back to the issue of young people living with hypertension...



Remember my friend S, who has a BMI of about 21, and was found to have a resting blood pressure of 150/105 at the age of 19? Well, till today, doctors don't know what is wrong with her...Some think it is Essential Hypertension manifesting as a fluke too early, too soon; Some think it is Secondary Hypertension...



The problem, is, which Secondary Hypertension?




She has been through the mill, from doctor to doctor, from clinic to clinic, from test to test...The only thing the doctors can agree on, is that there is something wrong, but they cannot agree on what that something is...




Do you know that today, at the fresh age of 22, S is on 3 different medications to fight her crazy blood pressure? And even then, the blood pressure is erratic, and has been known to fluctuate between a normal 110/70 to a high 160/115? When she is resting, mind you...




There are many things that S wants to do, but it is often not possible...



Why? Because a few things stand in the way...



For example, one of her medications, a Beta Blocker, make her tired too often, too soon...She can't run with her friends, or go to the gym, or go on a leisurely track up the hill...She wants to, but her body can't cope with the work...Because her medications cause her heart to slow down...

Which is the complete opposite of what is needed during exercise, right? When you exercise, you need you heart to pump faster to pump more blood to supply more oxygen, which would in turn give you more energy...But her medications do not allow her heart to pump as fast to cope with the increasing demand for oxygen...



It is sad, in a way...Young, and not able to join your friends when they decide to go say, bungee-jumping or something...Hey, even a hike up the hill is difficult...




Secondly, because her blood pressure is erratic, doctors have advised S against doing anything too strenous or out-of-the-ordinary, because they don't know how her body will be able to cope...So her parents are always worried if she might collapse...



S has to see the doctors every month, while they keep a hawk's eye over her blood pressure...The doctors have declared she will have to see them regularly for life...*Yucks*


She also has to take medication for life...She is already taking 3 now...I wonder how many she will take when she is, say, 50 years-old? *Shudder*


S also has to go for regular blood tests, and regular screening of certain body systems (like kidney and eyes) to make sure her blood pressure hasn't damaged them...


She also has to take her blood pressure regularly at home...Sometimes, when it is very high, she will be left with bruises on her arm from the deathly grip of the pressure cuff...


She is also firm friends with the ice-pack! Because headaches are also her friend (although this may not be directly related to the blood pressure)...




But I think the worst thing is this: How her blood pressure will affect her future chances of having a baby of her own?


After all, chronic hypertension increases your chances of getting preeclampsia (pregnancy-induced hypertension)...Her numerous medications also are of serious danger to a fetus in her womb, which means to safeguard the baby, she will need to stop her medications...


And stopping medications, will be detrimental to her...Doctors call people like S as people with high-risk pregnancies...





Hmmm...I don't know about you...But I never wondered what it must be like to have to watch your diet all the time (low salt, low fat, high rabbit-food), watch your weight all the time, worry about whether trying some new exercise/sport etc might make you collapse, or having to pop pills every morning like eating candy...


Quite yucky huh?



Here we have always read about how we should keep our blood pressure at around 120/80 to be healthy...Here we keep hearing about how if you have blood pressure that is higher than that continuously, you are at a higher risk of getting a/an aneurysm, stroke, heart attack or kidney failure...


Did you know that a perpetual increase of 20 mmHg Systolic (upper number) and/or 10 mmHg Distolic (lower number) doubles your chance of a heart attack?!?




Imagine what it must be like to be 22+, and know that you can't really control your blood pressure, and know that you are a big potential time-bomb for all the risk factors, and still have to do well in school, have a social life and still dream of a great future...




I guess we often take the simple but important things in life for granted, huh? We often do not appreciate these simple but important things until we don't have them anymore...

I mean, how many of us wake up in the morning and wonder whether our blood pressure will behave? We just take it for granted that, aiya, it's fine and working the way it is supposed to, isn't it? The same goes for the heart and the kidneys and the liver and the brain and the whole works...





Well, for some people, it doesn't...



But...Life goes on...

And, I am sure it will go on for S...






27 comments:

mott said...

oh wow.. that was an eye-opener. I never thought of it that way. I just wonder..how did she find out her BP was so high..thru a random check?

Cikgu Khairol said...

Hi Daphne Ling,
I found your blog by accident while looking for something else.
I am a teacher who is about to retire. Just about 2 motnhs ago, the doctors said I had hypertension. For about a year they ask me to go diet to bring my pressure down but it didn't work. So now I am on Atenolol half a pill. My bp is about 140/85 on a normal day and I think my work as a teacher which is very stressful makes bp a porblem.
Reading your article about S is very timely and I feel much better. I also feel quite ashamed also.
S is so young and she is already on so many drugs.
I was complaining to my doctor that I have to take ubat for life. The same your friend S is facing.
If we both life to be 70 year old, I will have to take ubat for another 17 years. But S has to take it for another 48 years!!!!!
So from this I have nothing to complain. And with half pill of Atenolol, my bp is controlled well and I have no side effects. I also have no worries about having children because I am a man! Haha.
This blog article was very helpful to me to put things in perspective. Thank you.
I was complaining about my death sentence because everybody says that high bp kills.
But I never realised that people so young too have problems. S's problems are worse than mine even!
Tell your friend S that Cikgu Khairol says helo.

Cikgu Khairol

zewt said...

dunno if it's co-incidence but i have had many encounters with health issues lately, either myself or my friends... i think it's a check on myself... to keep myself healthy.

my blood pressure shot up during the time when i had my kidney problems... but that is probably due to lack of rest. usually, i have quite low blood pressure.

no matter what, i think we all need to keep a hawk eye on our general health.

Kerp (Ph.D) said...

D,

its amazing that people tend to take things for granted when they believe they're in perfect of health. and by that, i guess its human nature to not keep your diet in check. cant really blame them, can we?

only 2 days ago i found out that own cousin is suffering exactly the same hypertention as S, but she managed to keep it to herself from even her own parents till recently. to S, i will surely pray that she gets the extra strength she needs. as it is now, i have some guts feeling she's a strong person who would strive on every single thing she does.

Jo-D said...

Daph,
Poor girl S. I hope she will get well by some way. The poor girl. Only 22. This post made me want to throw away all my junk food and go to the gym. I must be careful with my diet and my body. Thanks Daph. You send my regards to her al right?

Mat Salo said...

Ya lorr ... I remembered S from your previous post. Kesian dia, so young dah kene. I remember reading a particular "Hypertension" pull-out from either Time & Newsweek and there were articles discussing new treatments and such. What I remembered most was 55 year old Japanese-American who never drank nor smoked and hardly an ounce of body fat. Also a junkie into health foods and trains for marathons. But he's on three different medication to control hypertension: blood thinners etc since his 30's. He hasn't had a heart attack yet, but I his quote at the end of the article stunned me: "Sometimes you can just win". He was of course, alluding to what's in one's genes...

Anyway, hope S will get to lead as near a normal life as possible. And medical science will continue to find a cure...

sharlydia said...

i'm surprised to hear that too where young pple like teenager can get hypertension! but i know this sickness quite well coz it's sort of genetic in my family...my grandma had it & was quite serious, my dad has it & now under medication & u'r right, this bloody pressure has also affected her eyes, arteries, heart & kydney...

I guess we just cant take our health for granted, do regular medical checkups & live a healthier life by at least eating more healthy food & do some exercise!

Anonymous said...

High bp is not a joke at all. It is very life threatening. I hope your friend S gets well. Whoever she may be, she deserves a life not that is filled with medicine, doctors, hospitals and much unsureness. I wish her luck.

Daphne Ling said...

Hi Mott,

Thanks for reading...S found out about her high blood pressure during a routine check up. The doctors knew it wasn't because she was scared of doctors and hospitals because S was a very regular blood donor who had a record of perfect blood pressure! That's as much as I know...=)

Daphne Ling said...

Hi Cikgu Khairol,

Thank you for leaving me a comment here. It is indeed an honour...=)

If stress is the reason for high blood pressure, then I am sure teachers rank very highly as people who suffer from the disease...

"If we both life to be 70 year old, I will have to take ubat for another 17 years. But S has to take it for another 48 years!!!!!"

You know, I never thought about it that way...But how right you are! When you make a comparison like this, it does show the difference...Quite a tad morbid though...

But I guess the main target at the end of the day is to keep the blood pressure at bay...And I hope that the both of you will succeed in that, and remain with the same drugs, and not have to add anymore!

Do take care Cikgu, and I will send your regards to S...=)

Daphne Ling said...

Hi Zewt,

Kidney problems will definitely make your blood pressure go up! You are most lucky to have low blood pressure (not toooo low, though)...Hope it stays that way...

And real glad you are better and have recovered from your kidney-problems scare...

Take care, Zewt...

Daphne Ling said...

Hi Kerp,

Yes, we all take things for granted...

As for S, I am sure she is most thankful for your prayers...I will most certainly let her know...

I pray for your cousin to get to the root of her blood pressure problem too...Secondary Hypertension, if detected and treated early enough, is reversible (the blood pressure increase)...

You keep well too Kerp!

Daphne Ling said...

Hi Jo-D,

Haha! I didn't mean to make any body jump outta their skins! And yes, I will most certainly send your regards to S...Anyway, sometimes, all it takes is a genetic link and you're a goner...Even if you're a health buff, you will kena also...=(

Daphne Ling said...

Hi Abang Mat,

I am assuming that your statement:-

"Sometimes you can just win"

quoted from the 55 year-old Japanese-American is missing an 't (Can't)...

It's true...You can take care of your health, be a health buff and still have things go wrong if your genes are 'bad'...

In S's case, doctors didn't even put her on the 'try and lose weight and let's see what happens to your blood pressure' routine...

Her weight was ideal, and they agreed that weight loss might be more detrimental, and it won't help her bring her blood pressure down!

So I guess her genes have got some coming-cleaning to do...

Daphne Ling said...

Hi Sharlydia,

Haih, yea lor teenager can get hypertension too! And this disease does, unfortunately, affect the kidneys, the eyes, and the rest of the body...Naughty bugger lar...

Here's hoping the gene in your family skips you, and you won't get Hypertension...=)

Daphne Ling said...

Hi Anon 9.41 pm,

Yes, it is dangerous and it is a serious problem if not under control...Unfortunately, many people don't see it that way...

I will tell S what you said...It is very, very sweet, and on behalf of my friend, I wish to say Thank You!

tokasid said...

Dear Daphne:

A well presented entry on HPT that doesn't need anymore correction.Congratulations.

HPT or DM or Ischaemic Heart Ds(IHD) is not confined to 'old ppl' only, though they are more prone to these problems.

I have seen a 15 years old having HPT and its causes were ruled out and left with Essential Hypertension. But most of the time, for a young person to get HPT, there is most likely another problem hiding inside.

Healthy living by avoiding smoking, excessive drinking, too much junk foods will not guarantee you won't get HPT or DM or IHD but it will lessen your probability of ending up with it.

Those who have HPT, do take your medication regularly as prescribed. Please do so. You wouldn't wanna get a stroke or kidney failure or a heart attack. Believe me, you wouldn't wanna to.

TQ again Daphne.

Daphne Ling said...

Hi Doc,

Thank you...I left many things like exercise etc etc though =)

As for S, she doesn't smoke, drink and takes red meat quite sparsely...Used to be a kaki-jalan also...You know, the type that walks everywhere...

So yeah, if it's gonna hit, hit lar dia...As for the "most likely another problem hiding inside", how come so difficult to find then?

As for those of you who take meds for whatever, continue taking them like Doc says, you hear?

The Doc, has spoken, after all...

Keke...;)

After all, the only time I want to visit any of you in the hospital is if there's a new bundle of joy (or two!) in a nursery somewhere...The only time the hospital is a bringer of joy! =)

Faridah Khan said...

Daphne,
S sure has a lot on her hands for someone so young. I am pretty young too and my husband and I are having our first baby soon. I can't imagine being S with so much to take care off and the thought that she might have trouble with carrying a baby. It scares me. One thing for sure is I will surely take care of mself. All my best to S and I hope she'll get better soon. High blood is a bad thing and to get is so young must be devastatting. Hope she hangs in there.

ruby ahmad said...

Hi Daphne,

I am lay. when it comes to medical issues. Oh yeah, so sad to hear about S's predicament.

Challenges come in many forms. It could be in the form of relationships, financial burdens, lack of education, and yes health issues.

So far I have not met anyone with a perfect setting. I was so in awe with a lady with the hugest palatial home, 5 cars, Porche, Mini Cooper, Merc, BMW and what was the other one, can't remember, all parked in a row in the porch! Then I found out she was so unhappy with her partner as he has taken on a few other SYTs as new wives..hmm..

Two friends, one the father did not have enough funds to send him overseas, but the dad begged and borrowed and he managed to go to UK. The other friend, the dad had the money but decided to buy a new car. That friend cried and said how lucky the other friend's dad sacrificed his dignity to borrow money for the son's sake!!

Sorry I digressed from medical issues but I'm illustrating we are all challenged in different ways and it is up to us to work around it. Only God knows best!

S may be challenged this way, but I'm sure she has some special blessings elsewhere that we do not know of.

whre4arthou said...

Hey nai,

Huggie.. shan't say too much shall I?

Sigh..

At least certain things are a bit more explained to me now.. I've never understood the whole picture..

Anyway.. take care.. me wove you!

whre4arthou said...

Nai nai,

Me forgot.. tell S me wove her too!

Hehe..huggiepoo..

Daphne Ling said...

Hi Faridah,

Oh Wow! A mighty congrats to you and your husband! I hope you have a safe delivery and a cute, and healthy little baby...=)

As for S, I will convey your regards to her...Thank you on her behalf =)

Daphne Ling said...

Hi Kak Ruby,

Yes, I do believe you are right...I am sure S is blessed with gifts we do not know of yet...=) I'll remind her if she is feeling down or something!

You are right again Kak Ruby when you say we all have our challenges...Whether rich or poor, we all have our sadness and happiness...After all, "all that glitters is not gold" or so goes some famous saying...

Thanks for reminding me, Kak Ruby...I appreciate it...=)

Daphne Ling said...

Hi Whre4arthou,

Hey dearie...I will most definitely send your regards and hugs to S...You spend so much time with S (even in the hospital!) and didn't get what the fuss was about huh? You could have asked me...I would have told you...

Haha...Remember the cute doctor? The one whom we thought would be short, fat, balding with a big tummy? And he turned out to be super lengchai, and the complete opposite of what we were thinking?

Haha...I remember him! ;)

*Hugs* to you too...

whre4arthou said...

uhh.. that eye doctor??

He was quite leng chai laa.. hehe..

I didn't want to ask too much.. S very worried too.. so.. I figure company by presense was better than asking too much :P

Wei Chieh said yesterday night I sat up suddenly and said 'Baby, how many bedrooms? how many bedrooms?'

Sigh.. I think the whole house hunting thing is getting into me.. its haunting my dreams too..

Boohoohoohooohoohooohoohooohoohoooooooo.....

Daphne Ling said...

Hey Whre4arthou,

Haha...I think S was more confused than anything...I have a feeling the doctors were more worried lar, if you ask me...

As for you, relax ler dearie...Don't stress stress...=)

Take care...