Blood Pressure UK book

I had high blood pressure at 25 – Steve’s story


Steve thought that high blood pressure only affected older people, so his diagnosis came as a surprise. 20 years on, his medications and lifestyle changes haven’t been a problem.

I had high blood pressure at 25 – Steve’s story


A chance diagnosis

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 carried out 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. 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.

I was glad it was caught early

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, but this subsided when my doctor changed my pills.

Making changes

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 alcohol. Now I 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 and tennis occasionally. I’m probably half a stone over what I’d like to be, but I’m 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 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.



Share your story

Sharing your story lets others know they’re not alone, and could help them to live well with high blood pressure.




Map icon

Wolfson Institute of Population Health, Charterhouse Square, London, EC1M 6BQ

Telephone icon

General Enquiries