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Tom, a county councillor, explains how a PR opportunity ended up with him making an urgent GP appointment. Like so many of the “missing millions” with high blood pressure, he had no idea that he had a problem until he had a check during a Blood Pressure UK Know Your Numbers!® testing event.

This was no routine check

My occupational health advisor looked up at me with a look on her face that I will never forget. It was filled with shock and concern. “I think you need to see your GP – right now,” she said.

It should have been a routine blood pressure check. We were about to run a blood pressure awareness week at the county council and I’d been asked to have mine checked first. I was the chairman of the council and it was felt that if I went first, then everyone else would follow.

Up until that moment I hadn’t had a clue that anything was wrong. I was in my early 60s, I felt fine and I tried to do the things I did when I was 30 years younger. Alright, I was carrying a bit more weight than I should, but then who doesn’t?

Margaret was concerned because my blood pressure was particularly high – high enough to blow my head off, as I like to say. “But I don’t feel anything,” I said. “Yes,” explained the occupational health advisor, “that’s why it’s called a silent killer.”

I immediately arranged an appointment with my GP for the next morning. When I got home I told my wife and neither of us had a good night’s sleep.

The next morning my GP took my blood pressure and started me on blood pressure medicines. He also wanted to find out about my lifestyle and was satisfied that my drinking habits and physical activity levels were okay (I have two little dogs and I walk 2-3 miles a day). He suggested that I lose some weight, talked about healthy eating, and gave me some leaflets to read.

GP was a real help

It might seem strange to say, but it was a real relief to be diagnosed with high blood pressure. After the look on Margaret’s face, I was worried that my health would never be the same again, but now I knew that it could be lowered and brought under control.

We agreed that I should go back in three weeks to see if the medicines were working. As it was, I asked Margaret to keep an eye on my blood pressure during that time and we noticed that my blood pressure was dropping steadily as I took the tablets. I found it very encouraging to see it coming down and it motivated me to keep taking the medicines.

At our next meeting my doctor was pleased to see that my blood pressure was coming down and that I wasn’t having any side-effects. We agreed to continue with the tablets and I’ve now taken the same medicines for the past six months.

Wife keeps me on track

Perhaps one of the reasons why my blood pressure is under control is my wife. She has read all the leaflets my GP gave me and discovered that taking your tablets everyday is important. So every morning I now find my tablets on the kitchen table waiting for me, and I’m not allowed to eat any breakfast until they have been swallowed.

Also, I used to enjoy a good fry up every now and then and this has come to an end. It’s a case of toast and fruit in the mornings now! In the past I found it difficult to eat properly because I have civic duties that include lunchtime buffets of fried, salty or pastry foods. But now I take care to avoid the unhealthy finger foods.

From my experience, I would like to offer this advice:

  • get your blood pressure checked regularly, it’s the only way to know
  • having high blood pressure isn’t the the end of the world. There are plenty of easy changes you can make to look after yourself.

Until that moment, I hadn’t had a clue that anything was wrong. I felt fine.


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