How life-changing can a two-minute-per-day activity be?
Post her demise, I was reviewing the results of amma’s blood tests, urine tests and a good many other tests that were done just days before she died.
Not surprisingly, the tests revealed her blood loss related problems – low red blood cells & hemoglobin.
Other than that, she had only two other critical problems – aortic dissection and a weak heart. The tests showed no other life-threatening problems. Her kidney, liver, intestines, lungs – all these were working quite well, especially for a person of her age.
Her aortic dissection and weak heart were both a direct result of her hypertension.
Imagine if, after the first time she had a stroke in 2002, she had been very careful about her blood pressure medications.
There would have been no weak hearts. There would have been no aortic dissections. There would have been no need for anticoagulants, no internal bleeding and no anemia.
All her other organs would have been in good shape.
She would have been alive today. And kicking furiously.
She was 81 when she died.
Given her tenacity and fearlessness, she could have lived up to 90, and with some luck even thought of inching towards 100 – if only she had been very strict with her BP control right from the beginning.
Many studies on centenarians 190, 191 have unsurprisingly shown how they have a very low prevalence of hypertension and high-cholesterol compared with the general population. While other studies have pointed to a more nuanced and intricate relationship between hypertension and centenarians, it is a fair assumption that control of something as critical as blood pressure that can have an adverse effect on so many body functions will have a strong positive correlation with longevity.
Living to a 100 is a dream. For those fortunate enough not to have diabetes or other chronic diseases, leading a fairly healthy life to a ripe old age may not be so difficult if only they are careful with their blood pressure. If we cannot control it through an active lifestyle and exercise, is it too difficult to spend a minute each in the morning and evening to pop in a pill?
Two minutes a day can possibly extend your life by two decades. 192
190. Not all studies show this trend though. An intriguing 2004 Polish study published in Nature actually showed that a significant percentage of centenarians actually either had hypertension or were on treatment for hypertension drugs – https://www.nature.com/articles/1001728
191. Blood pressure and centenarians have quite an intricate relationship though. A 2011 study showed that while a majority of centenarians had no hypertension, it also found an inverse relationship between hypertension and dementia in this group – https://academic.oup.com/ajh/article/24/3/299/2281965. In addition, studies have also shown that for old people who are frail and have limited mobility, a slightly high blood pressure could be better than a low value – https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/blood-pressure-goals-may-need-to-change-with-age-201207205034
192. Blood pressure medications also have side effects. If your doctor is able to arrive at a medication that can keep your BP low with minimal side effects, it can keep you going for a very long time.