The danger is its silence…no warning.
The Silent Cop Killer
By: BJ Bourg
“If you don’t do something about your high blood pressure,” my doctor said, “you are going to get a brain bleed while working out and you won’t be happy.” I was 39 at the time and feeling great, so when my doctor read my numbers on that particular day and told me I was a heart attack waiting to happen, I was shocked.
Sure, I had taken a few months off from working out due to a boxing injury and had packed on a few extra pounds, but I was still in excellent shape and I thought I was healthy. Not only did I think I was healthy, but I felt healthy. There had been no symptoms…no warning signs that something was amiss inside my body.
When my doctor explained that this asymptomatic quality is what makes high blood pressure so dangerous, hence the name “the silent killer,” and that my elevated blood pressure placed me at greater risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke, I realized immediately I would have to treat my body like a squad car…I would have to service it regularly so I could know what was happening “under the hood.”
I had always heard that heart attack deaths were an occupational hazard in law enforcement, but I was not aware of how prevalent they were until I visited the Officer Down website and learned they have been the third or fourth leading cause of death every year since 2004. When I delved into the details, I found that many of these deaths were preceded by some type of physical exertion, which included tactical training, or stressful situation.
Additionally, these heart attacks were indiscriminate of age, as is evidenced by the 23-year-old officer who suffered a heart attack and died in 2011 and the 26-year-old officer who died after suffering a heart attack in 2013.
Since high blood pressure increases your risk of heart attack, it makes good sense to monitor it on a regular basis, regardless of your age or fitness level. The first order of business is to schedule a visit to your family doctor and get your pressure checked. If it is within the normal range, you have wasted nothing but a little time and a miniscule co-payment, and have gained a healthy dose of “peace of mind.”
If it is elevated, you might have saved your own life. At that point you would need to discuss your lifestyle habits and family history with your doctor so the two of you can formulate a strategy to keep it under control.
Over the years, through research and consulting with my doctor, I’ve learned to avoid certain things while embracing others to assist me in maintaining a healthy pressure. The first thing I did was purchase a home-monitoring device and started checking my pressure daily. Smoking should absolutely be avoided and, since I never started, it was easy to quit.
I decreased the amount of alcohol I consumed from every time the New Orleans Saints played football to a few times per year. I began watching the scale more closely and I found that my blood pressure went down with my weight. I decreased the amount of sodium in my diet and increased the amount of potassium. I found that odorless garlic tablets helped reduce my blood pressure.
I continued to partake in aerobic-type workouts and I found that if I worked out five days per week for at least 30 minutes, I could maintain a healthy pressure. I learned to avoid isometric-type exercises because they can cause your blood pressure to spike temporarily. Now, while these things have worked for me, all cases are different and you should only follow the advice of a healthcare professional.
If you haven’t taken a look under your hood lately, you should give it serious thought…it might help you elude this silent cop killer.