New research shows Americans are losing ground in controlling high blood pressure, and a local woman is urging people to get the issue under control as soon as possible.
Patricia Wood knew she had high blood pressure, but it never seemed like anything to be worried about.
“It would be up a little bit, but then it would be totally normal, so that was one of the reasons I kept thinking, OK, I don’t need medication,” Wood said.
Despite being a healthy weight and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, her doctor insisted that she take blood pressure medication because of the one thing Wood couldn’t control: her family history.
Her family history of heart disease includes a father who died at 47 years old, a brother who had a heart attack at 35 years old and died at 54 years old following a stroke, another brother who had emergency quadruple bypass surgery at 45 years old and a mother who died of congestive heart failure.
Wood had a heart attack last August.
“When the heart attack occurred, I had no idea what it was. Even with that history. It woke me up. I had 100% blockage in the LAD, which is known as the widow maker,” she said.
LAD is a term referring to the left anterior descending artery.
Earlier this month, Wood’s identical twin sister had a heart attack as well.
“The exact same major artery. The LAD. Hers was not 100% blocked but it was 90,” Wood said.
“It’s scary,” she said.
Novant Health electrophysiologist and interventional cardiologist Dr. Zan Tyson says while the pandemic may have exacerbated health issues because people put off necessary medical appointments, hypertension concerns were present well before now.
“I think it’s all contributed to the fact that we’re heavier than we ought to be. We don’t eat right, and we don’t exercise enough,” Tyson said.
Tyson says people should stay on top of taking their medication and follow the COVID-19 safety guidelines.
Long-term, people should make the necessary changes to adopt a healthy lifestyle.
Wood encourages people to consistently know their numbers beyond an annual checkup and is sharing her story through her platform as a 2020 Forsyth County Go Red Woman.
Novant Health is the American Heart Association’s Forsyth County Go Red for Women Sponsor.