'Only 25 when diagnosed'

Skip the main content if you do not want to read it as the next section.

I have been living with high blood pressure for more than 20 years now. Back in 1993 I moved house across London from Peckham to Tufnell Park and needed to register with a new GP. As part of the registration process the doctor undertook a new-patient health check and picked up that my blood pressure was 200/100 - which was high.

I was a 25 year old student at the time and with hindsight I knew something was wrong as I’d get burst blood vessels down my forearms after a big drinking night out and I had also been told by a previous doctor that I had the arteries of a 40 year old who smoked a lot even though I’ve never smoked.

When I heard the news at first I was surprised as I thought high blood pressure only affected older people in stressful situations but as it turns out it can affect anyone of any age at any time in their life. I also remember thinking it was strange that there was no known cause in the majority of cases.

Mostly though my feelings were that I was just glad it was caught early and I had a chance to get it under control with medication. The thought of taking drugs for the rest of my life was a bit daunting especially when I suffered from side effects early on such as a persistent dry cough however this subsided when my doctor changed my pills.

Back then the first thing my doctor advised was that I stopped drinking altogether to see what effect that had. I did it for 30 days and my blood pressure went up. But I thought it was worth sticking with so I went nearly 10 years without any. Now have the occasional glass of red wine. I have tried to cut back on fatty foods and sugar and try to opt for the healthier option such as granary bread and wholemeal pasta, but it’s taken a while. My diet could improve further though.

Physically, I run, play badminton at least weekly, squash monthly, tennis occasionally. And I’m probably half a stone over what I’d like to be, but not in too bad shape. The biggest lifestyle change for me was the not drinking, especially at such a young age. The last train home from a night out wasn’t as much fun as it used to be and dating became more of a challenge due to sobriety but ultimately my health was my priority and not having a hangover turned out to be a blessing!

More than 20 years of blood pressure medication has not actually been a problem and taking that one or two pills a day has just become part of my life and looking back I am glad to say I am all the healthier for it.

Steve Smethurst, 47, Twickenham

The following page sections include static unchanging site components such as the page banner, useful links and copyright information. Return to the top of page if you want to start again.

Page Extras

Skip the main banner if you do not want to read it as the next section.

Page Banner

End of page. You can return to the page content navigation from here.