Lori Lehnhard is used to taking care of everyone...but herself. A practice that caught up with her.
“They checked my blood pressure and it was elevated so high blood pressure is what they diagnosed me with,” says Lori Lehnhard.
It was early enough that she could take action- and reverse course on a potentially dangerous condition. Chronic high blood pressure can shorten your lifespan by 10–20 years.
“When you have high blood pressure it has been shown to lead to increased risk of stoke, and heart attack, and even death,” says Dr. Elizabeth Cosmi- Cintron, cardiologist on Lee Memorial Health System’s medical staff.
Blood pressure is determined by the amount of blood your heart pumps and the amount of force it pushes against the walls in your arteries. Some factors that affect blood pressure can’t be helped, like age, race, and heredity. Others are within our reach.
“The modifiable risk factors that we do have and our ability to help patients include things like controlling your blood pressure, trying to reduce diabetes occurrence, trying to reduce cholesterol by diet modifications,” says Dr. Cosmi- Cintron.
Studies find estrogen levels may play a role in modulating blood pressure- with many women developing hypertension after menopause. Medication is often warranted, but patients can benefit from a low-sodium, high potassium diet. Plus exercise.
“That’s the first thing you want to encourage anyone to do as well because that’s probably the greatest risk reduction for cardiovascular disease and certainly a treatment for hypertension,” says Dr. Cosmi- Cintron.
Lehnhard is changing both her lifestyle and her priorities.
“Because your family really needs you and if you’re gone who’s going to take care of them? So you must take care of yourself first,” says Lehnhard.