David volunteered for his free blood pressure check at his workplace, the Bradford Homeless Day Shelter, which he manages, to encourage others to get tested.
David said: “I don’t drink, I don’t smoke and I walk the dog so I thought I was fairly healthy and wasn’t really bothered about having the check done.”
That changed when David’s readings were very high and he was advised to go to his GP practice to have it checked again.
“My reading was even higher when the practice nurse checked it so they gave me a monitor to wear for 12 hours. The readings were a bit lower but still high so my GP recommended some tablets to lower it.”
However David didn’t take them and went off on holiday to America to visit his brother.
“I ruined the holiday because I was so short and snappy with everyone. At one point I made a big deal out of a problem with a subway ticket that wasn’t necessary and really upset my wife. Even my brother noticed that I wasn’t myself but because of my mood he didn’t know what to say to me.”
When David returned home he received a letter asking him to go to his GP practice for another blood pressure check.
“This time my wife was more determined than me and told me to go to the appointment. It wasn’t a surprise, this time, when my blood pressure was high, however it still wasn’t sinking in – even though there’s a history of heart disease in my family.
“But this time the doctor gave it to me straight. He said ‘you are not taking this seriously enough and if you don’t this will either be life changing or life ending.’ This time I listened. He prescribed some tablets and talked to me about other things I could do to help lower my blood pressure such as losing weight and getting more active.”
Like many people David put his symptoms down to the stresses of ordinary life. For him, it was starting a new job. The early starts, late finishes and longer hours changed his sleep habits so he put the constant headaches and irritability down to that.
“I don’t think I realised how unwell I was feeling until I compare how I feel now to last year. I was like a ticking time bomb. If I hadn’t volunteered to get my blood pressure checked I don’t know what would have happened. It saved my life.”
David still takes regular medication to keep his blood pressure at normal levels. He’s joined a gym, lost weight and is keen to lose more.
“I feel I was given a gift – my life – so I’m going to take care of it. I also want to encourage other people to get their blood pressure checked. If I can save somebody else too, then I’ll be happy.”