Updated 30 October 2014

Hypertension: never skip your medication

Even when you feel on top of the world and not in need of any medication whatsoever, do not skip your blood pressure medication, as it may come back to haunt you.

Even when you feel on top of the world and not in need of any medication whatsoever, do not skip your blood pressure medication, as it may come back to haunt you.

This tried and tested advice comes from a long-time blood pressure (BP) patient and pensioner David Lindhout (77) of Gauteng.

Having lived with BP for the best part of his life – he was only 18 years old when BP was first diagnosed in 1954 – he cannot help but wonder if later his heart bypass operation at the age of 55 could have been avoided, had he meticulously taken his BP medication in his earlier years.

After school, Lindhout’s dream was to become a fighter pilot, so he joined the air force in a quest to fulfil his childhood dream.

"I underwent a series of medical assessments to evaluate my fitness for the fighter pilot programme and my test results revealed that I had high blood pressure which meant that I could no longer become a fighter pilot."

No priority

This, however, did not deter him from enjoying life to the full. Like many younger folk, in his twenties, partying and socialising was the norm and more often than not this lifestyle led him to neglect taking his medication.

"I was young and did not believe that I needed to take my medication regularly. It was not a huge priority for me. Also, when I stopped taking my medication in my twenties, there weren’t any major complications. However, when I got married at the age of 26, everything changed. After I had my children, I had a huge mind shift and made sure that I took my medication regularly."

However, complications from BP, such as heart failure, eventually impacted on his ability to run his own business and his career as an entrepreneur.

Lindhout singles out two pivotal moments that irrevocably changed his attitude towards BP: getting married and having kids, as well as when he underwent heart bypass surgery.

Dizziness and nausea

"These moments changed my life forever; it made me take stock of my life; take responsibility and accountability for taking my medication regularly."

He advises anyone with symptoms such as constant dizziness and nausea to go for an ECG scan and, if necessary, consult a surgeon.

"Don’t wait for your symptoms to worsen before you investigate the matter. Secondly, try always to live a healthy, balanced lifestyle, eat healthily, don’t smoke, and make sure you see your doctor for regular check ups."

In the autumn of his life, Lindhout is happy and fulfilled when he can be active, walk and not tire too easily. "I enjoy driving and visiting the family, so I need energy and good health to accomplish this. I also thoroughly enjoy learning something new everyday, thus improving my mental ability."

Novartis South Africa press release


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Dr Jacomien de Villiers qualified as a specialist physician at the University of Pretoria in 1995. She worked at various clinics at the Department of Internal Medicine, Steve Biko Hospital, these include General Internal Medicine, Hypertension, Diabetes and Cardiology. She has run a private practice since 2001, as well as a consultant post at the Endocrine Clinic of Steve Biko Hospital.

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