Category Archives: Hypertension

GAH! .. Adventures in Hypertension

Week Blood Pressure
1 145/90
2 148/88
3 147/90

GRRR!! .. I get that it has only been 3 weeks. Maybe it takes longer? Who knows. That should be a question I ask next week. How long does it take to make a real change? REALLY?

Hypertension Lesson #3

This week we learned about nutrition. Same old same old right? How many times have we been beat over the head with healthy eating? Eat nutritious foods, don’t eat bad foods. Period.

Stephanie decided instead of giving us the Nutritional Science lecture, to give us some handy dandy tips for us to try.

I will share 5 of them with you.

  • You like bread? Whole wheat instead of white. Pasta, sliced bread, hot dog bun, however you like it, there might be a whole wheat version. Get it. White ain’t right.. Brown is better!
  • Need to cook with oils? Olive or Canola. Why Olive? Omega 3 Fatty Acids. Very helpful in reducing high blood pressure. You can’t really cook olive oil in high heat (it breaks down those essential nutrients) so if you need to fry..Canola is your guy!
  • Beans, beans the magical fruit! They are a natural source of protein with out the fat. Half a cup of Lentils have 9 grams of protein. I have never had a lentil. Anyone got a recipe?
  • Incorporate more greens! OF the lettuces, Romaine has the highest nutritional value. Then try spinach, swiss chard and collards. I like to make spinach and tomato sandwiches. Whole wheat with the crusts cut off. Sipping on tea with my pinky in the air.

Sauteed garlic collard greens with cabbage..Yummy for my tummy! (Recipe Below)

Try this recipe of sauteed collard and cabbage from the American Heart Association. MMM mmm good.


  • LOSE the salt. For real. Previously, I stated that the RDA is 2400 mg. That’s if you have normal blood pressure. It’s 1500 mg for abnormals like myself. Luckily I am not a big salt person, HOWEVER, I do like some lemon pepper, and wouldn’t you know it- but some lemon pepper brands have salt in it! BOOOOOO!!!! Check your labels folks. Especially if you like  buffalo wings (2460 mg), spaghetti sauce (1450 mg), canned chicken noodle soup (1106 mg), Potato salad (1323 mg) know normal stuff.

Download a sodium lecture and a  list of foods with high and low sodium counts.  SaltReduction (pdf 528 kb) High Sodium Foods (pdf 176 kb) Low Sodium Foods (pdf 62 kb)


MORE food  ‘lecture’ handouts here: FoodFacts ( pdf 573 kb) FoodFacts2 (pdf 618 kb) FoodGroups (pdf 557 lb) FoodGroups2 (pdf 451 kb)

By the way: Alameda County Public Health Department’s: Healthy Living For Life has a lot of great tips for you the try. Check it out!


I didn’t get a homework assignment. However, we did get notice that our exercise session would be longer, so I decided to make sure I exercise often so as not to embarrass myself. 🙂


So dear any other handy advice? Who has a lentil recipe? It had better be good, I’m a picky eater. 🙂

Leave a comment

Filed under Health, Hypertension

Up and Down .. Adventures in Hypertension

Week Blood Pressure
1 145/90
2 148/88

A change but not what I was hoping for.

This past week I changed my diet by making absolute sure I get 5 servings of fruits and vegetables (2 of fruit and 3 of veggies). Easier said than done. I tended to waiver between having more fruits one day and more veggies on another.   I changed the foods I ate but still drank the same amount of water. My body absorbed the water differently.. or not at all. Let’s just say I went through a lot of toilet paper.



At this weeks meeting we had a doctor come in and give us the low down on what hypertension is.

For those of you who don’t know, Hypertension is the medical term for having high blood pressure. Your blood pressure is the measure of the force of blood against the walls of your arteries. It tends to rise and fall throughout the day but when there is constant elevation over a long period of time  it’s called high blood pressure.

High blood pressure is bad. It causes the heart to work too hard and can lead to hardening of the arteries (a term call arteriosclerosis). This in turn can cause heart disease, stroke and other stuff.

What exactly is that fraction?

Systolic/ Diastolic

Systolic = the pressure exerted on the heart when it beats

Diastolic = the pressure on the heart in between the beat, or when relaxed.

What is a normal blood pressure reading?

Below 120/80.  Yes, I said it..below.

What are some of the causes of hypertension? 

Not in order of importance..

  • Genetics
  • Obesity/Overweight
  • Sedentary behavior (not moving)
  • Too much salt intake (how much salt is too much? Over 2400 mg per day.)
  • Too much alcohol
  • Tobacco

Can you feel when your blood pressure goes up?

I am sure you heard someone say..”Man I’m blood pressure is up” or “You making my blood pressure go up!” Well they are lying!! Okay it might be true, but they don’t know it. You can’t feel when your blood pressure goes up. This is why they call hypertension the silent killer. Many people feel that since they  ‘feel okay’ that they can put off doing something about their high blood pressure. What they don’t know is prolonged stress on the heart exerts cumulative damage that can cause serious complications.

There are some symptoms of elevated blood pressure, but those manifest when something bad is going to happen right away. Dizziness, blurred vision, chest pain or severe headaches. Signs of a stroke or heart problem. You don’t want to wait until then. If you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure take steps to control it and stay on top of it. Don’t wait until it’s too late!!

What are ways to treat Hypertension?

If you have been diagnosed with hypertension and your doctor gives you instructions or prescribes medication..LISTEN TO YOUR DOCTOR. Take the medication. Follow the diet recommendation. Do whatever they tell you to do. You are paying the person..listen!!

Other methods that don’t involve medication:

  • Lose weight: If you lose 10-20 lbs you can lower your  number by 5-20 points.
  • Dietary changes: If you reduce your salt intake to 2.4 grams you can lower your systolic pressure by 2 pts
  • Physical Activity: You can potentially drop your number by 4-9 points by increasing your movement..


After the lesson we did our physical activity..which almost caused me to dislocate my shoulder..but bygones.

Homework for this week: READ “Spiritual Guide to Good Health” by Stephanie Davenport.  Ms. Davenport is our Health Ministry Program Coordinator. If you are interested in a copy, let me know and I will comment on how to get one for you. I am sure she has extra. 😉


Your turn!! COMMENTS? QUESTIONS? New information that I didn’t add? Chime in and let me know. I am always down to learn something new!!


Filed under Health, Hypertension, Uncategorized

145/90 ..Ouch!! Adventures in Hypertension.

“Be the change you want to see”

This is going to be the motto for my life.

If I want to see my community become healthier and live healthier lifestyles, I need to practice what I preach. My personal change comes slowly. As I learn something new, I try to incorporate it into my life. I’m a work in progress.

I am able to learn new things through my volunteer position as Health Ministry Coordinator for my church. (Memorial Tabernacle Church, Oakland California)

Every year I conduct a Hypertension Screening program at Memorial where the local hospital staff comes and do blood pressure screenings for members of my church. In general, hypertension is pretty darn high in the African American Community. My church members are not the exception.

Personally, my numbers have always been borderline. I always start off ridiculously high. The physicians aren’t really surprised by this given how I run the program, my stress levels are pretty high.  The physicians/nurses are careful to let us know that blood pressure levels can fluctuate day by day..even hour by hour. After they talk to me (sometimes flirt with me- young Drs are pretty funny) and I relax, my numbers usually fall within 120/80 range.

So I say to myself..I have nothing to worry about. Right? WRONG (apparently)

The Alta Bates Health Ministry Program coordinator is pretty worried that the community numbers are pretty high. So she implemented a 12-week hypertension pilot program and recruited ministry leaders like myself to join. I thought cool..why not! I can learn something and bring it back to the church.

What’s the first thing I learned during our first day in the program? My numbers are 145/90!! In February my numbers were 121/88. What a difference six months makes!

That was the first reading. I didn’t have the nurse do another reading. I could have.  I walked the mile and half to get the hospital, I got lost, and was a little late. Anxiety..stress, all of that could have been a factor in my score fluctuating. I could have had the nurse calm me down and found my numbers back in the normal range. However I don’t think my pressure should get that high just because I am stressed. Right?

The number scared me. I need to be scared..and to stay scared. Fear is a great motivator.

So for the next 12 weeks, I will be a part of a hypertension management program. Once a week I will go to the hospital and get my numbers. Then, I will get training on healthy eating, exercise, stress management, the works!

As someone who works in public health (childhood obesity specifically) I know all of this stuff. However, knowing and putting it into practice all the time are two different things. Being in this program will get me back on track..and I will have fear friends (and strangers) to help keep me there.

So 12 week program, here I come!! I will share my progress with you, dear reader, and hopefully you will learn something as well.

My homework this week (this could be your homework as well)

1. Eat 5 a day: 2 fruits, 3 vegetables.  I can eat anything else I want, just make sure to have those 5 a day. Baby steps!
2. Fill out this daily food chart/ activity chart. Download yours here:  DailyFoodLog1 (pdf)    DailyFoodLog2 (pdf)
3. Figure out my spiritual routine (once I read this booklet that was provided I will share more about it).


Who’s with me?

Do you know your numbers..Care to share? (If you don’t know your numbers go to your doctor/clinic/Walgreens or homie/lover/nurse/friend and find out). Got any great tips you would like to share? Questions you would like me to answer?   Let me know!


Filed under Advocacy, Health, Hypertension