Passing a test -- 10/25/06

My brother is responsible for this entry... I called him on the phone to chat a little while ago and he told me he had just been looking at my Web site a few minutes earlier, so I figured it was well past time for me to write another entry.

The test I passed was my treadmill stress test.

Since I flunked that treadmill test back in July (i.e., had my blood pressure hit 216 over 92, sufficiently elevated that they stopped the test at that point), my cardiologist said I had exercise-induced hypertension and put me on Toprol XL (a beta blocker) and told me to cut back on salt and caffeine and to lose some weight. Well, I've only lost around four or five pounds (yeah, the same ones I lost in early August -- they keep sneaking back and I have to hide from them all over again) and although I reduced my coffee consumption, I realized that in actuality I had been drinking a lot more coffee than I had thought that I was, so that, in essence, my cutting back has reduced my consumption to what it was that I had thought that I had been drinking before I tried to cut back. I have, however, been quite successful at cutting sodium consumption. (At a follow-up visit a couple of weeks ago, my cardiologist told me that it is okay to eat in a Japanese or Chinese restaurant once-in-a-while just as long as all of the other days are low salt days. He also said that instead of waiting until next month, he thought it would be a good idea to get me on a treadmill sooner than that.

Thus, this past Friday I got to workout on a treadmill. My blood pressure before the test was 117 (or 118) over 78... and that was despite the fact that it was taken by a woman wearing a white coat (ah ha! "white coat syndrome") and if the results were like my July test, it would be an indication that my current medication and treatment was not working and I would be faced with a higher dose of Toprol or an additional medication (either way, there'd be a greater risk of side effects going along with that).

My blood pressure did not rise into the danger zone so they took me through the full range on the treadmill. I did have a reading where the systolic hit 188, but I was jogging up a sixteen and a half degree incline at the time, so that was not unexpected for that amount of exertion. The nurse made me quite happy -- as the treadmill was getting steeper and steeper, she asked if I was really 63 and then commented that I was very far over on the right side of the bell curve. (So... how come my running is so slow compared with what I used to be able to do? Last night Jill and I ran a one mile loop around the neighborhood just a bit faster than nine minutes... but ten years ago we would have done that same distance at least two minutes faster.)

So now I can gradually make my workouts more strenuous and can push myself through more vigorous exercise (not every day, just some days) without worrying that the top of my head will blow off.

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