ATLANTA – Tonya O’Bryan knew her blood pressure was borderline high, but she realized how high it was until she went to the dentist a few months ago.
“That was a really big wakeup call,” O’Bryan remembers.
She was told she could not get a scheduled root canal because her blood pressure was dangerously high.
“They didn’t tell me what my blood pressure was, but they said I needed to go to the doctor, like, as soon as possible,” O’Bryan remembers.
The 45-year-old social media strategist who works in cardiovascular health and stroke prevention went to an urgent care, then a new doctor.
A few years back, she says, a doctor had told her she was pre-hypertensive, but had not explained what that really meant, or what she could do about.
Tonya O’Bryan of Atlanta, Georgia, got a “wakeup call” at the dentist, when she could not have a root canal because her blood pressure was too high. (Eli Jordan, FOX 5 Atlanta)
O’Bryan says over the years, her healthcare providers had always focused in on her weight.
“Like, before we even get to ‘Hey, how are you doing,’ it’s ‘You need to lose weight!’ I know that! I see myself!”
This time around, O’Bryan says, things were different.
“I felt like she was telling me the truth in a way I had never heard it before, or maybe I hadn’t been listening,” she says. “It wasn’t, ‘You need to do this because XYZ.’ It was just, ‘Here is the information, here is where you are, and here is where we need to get you. So, how do we do this?’ And, it was a shared plan.”
Dr. Jessica Shepherd is a Dallas gynecologist and Chief Medical Officer of the website Verywell Health, says O’Bryan’s scare gave her to take charge of a problem many people may not be aware they even have.
Tonya O’Bryan of Atlanta, Georgia, got a “wakeup call” at the dentist, when she could not have a root canal because her blood pressure was too high. (Eli Jordan FOX 5 Atlanta)
“If you have high blood pressure, that means that your arteries are really under high pressure, and that means that your heart is working harder,” Dr. Shepherd says.
O’Bryan now takes medication to lower her blood pressure, and works out virtually with a personal trainer,
“I just realized it was time to make some different changes,” she says. “And, at this point, it was like my life depended on it.”
Dr. Shepherd says there are ways to decrease your risk of high blood pressure, starting with exercise.
“Make sure that you get at least 150 minutes per week in of exercise, to really increase your heart rate,” Shepherd says. “Also, (look at your) diet. What are the things that are really going to decrease the risk of you getting high blood pressure, such as decreasing carbohydrates, high sugars and things that are processed, and soda.”
Finding was to decrease stress is also important, Shepherd says.
Tonya O’Bryan of Atlanta, Georgia, got a “wakeup call” at the dentist, when she could not have a root canal because her blood pressure was too high.
Instead of restricting certain foods, O’Bryan has focused on adding lots of healthy fresh fruit and vegetables.
“I’m not trying to fix it quickly, no fad diets,” she says. “I’m really trying to get to know me and my body better.”
Her blood pressure is back in the healthy range, but it’s a work in progress.
“This is a one-day-at-a-time thing,” O’Bryan says. “Like, this didn’t happen overnight. My blood pressure didn’t get sky-high overnight. So, it’s something I have to work on.”