Heart Disease 

When I was a kid, my mom always had matching salt and pepper shakers that sat on the kitchen table. They were not cute or flashy, just nice cut glass that matched our glassware.

Then one day, they disappeared, banished to the cupboard. I was about 12 at the time, but I remember wondering what was up. My mom didn’t get them out for meals either. They sat in the cabinet next to the stove and rarely saw the light of day.

My parents hadn’t developed an aversion to spices. My dad’s blood pressure had hit record proportions.

High blood pressure runs in my dad’s family and he had battled it his entire life, even as the starting center on his high school basketball team. At 6-foot-5, my Pop was always active and fit – until he hit 40 years old and the weight finally caught up with him. He was used to hunting, fishing, and moving all day, but by age 40 he was stuck behind a desk most of the day, but he was still eating like a teenager.

Then he had a major heart attack at age 42. And he got scared.

Life After a Heart Attack

Not only was the salt and pepper gone from the table, so was the meat. My dad had always had a half-acre garden, but now all we ate were fresh fruits and vegetables. By the end of the summer, I was dreaming about hamburgers.

The good news was that my dad’s weight dropped, he felt a lot better and he lived another 10 years before dying in an auto accident.

 What’s strange is that as a kid, I just accepted the way things were. I forgot about salt and pepper – although not about hamburgers. I still rarely salt or pepper my food, and now it’s me that’s dealing with high blood pressure.

Thanks to my Pop, though, I learned to use a blood pressure cuff when I was 12, and I know how to grow a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables. And with diet, exercise, monitoring my blood pressure, and taking medication, I have managed to avoid a heart attack.

By Amanda Rogers for Surepoint Medical Centers

Amanda Rogers is a freelance writer based in Fort Worth, Texas

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