A minor neck pain was a wake-up call for Steven.
The middle-aged father of two’s blood test revealed that there was far more going on.
“[The doctor] told me my blood pressure was extremely high,” said Steven, who learned after a visit to our Conway Health and Resource Center in December that he was at risk of a heart attack, diabetes and stroke. “She showed me what could happen to me if I kept up my lifestyle. I could die if I didn’t change.”
A DC native, and a proud Nationals fan, Steven was raised to be a health-conscious person. His mother was a nurse after all. “But I always thought being healthy was an option. I left knowing why it needs to be a priority,” he said.
When Steven was 24-years-old working as an electrician’s apprentice and a government contractor, he was always on the move. And fast food was right there, wherever he would go. “I was a young, working male, I didn’t think every little thing I put into my mouth was going to affect me today.” But it did.
Fast forward 20 years later, Steven paid a visit to the Conway Health and Resource Center where he learned just how high his risk factors were for heart attack, diabetes and stroke. His habits of unhealthy eating and infrequent exercise landed Steven in the doctor’s office.
To put it in perspective, about 65 percent of Americans age 60 or older have high blood pressure.
According to the American Heart Association, African Americans have the highest prevalence of hypertension in the country and have twice the risk of first-ever strokes, men especially. This meant that, for Steven, it was time for a change.
“How was I going to be around for my children if I continued as I was?” Steven wondered. “I needed someone to tell me like it was – to wake me up.”
After that first visit, our doctors sent Steven home with not only these eye-opening statistics, but a game plan. First, eat less sodium dense foods (Goodbye, fast food). Second, limit smoking and drinking and work to eliminate them completely. Third, work exercise into daily routines. It seemed easy enough to Steven, who remembered his mom’s healthy principles.
Within two short months, Steven’s blood pressure went down drastically. He could breathe easier, sleep better and his appetite was back. He had more energy, his brain was clearer and his attitude improved. Coincidentally, the neck pain went away, too.
“I’ve never felt better and I have Community of Hope to thank for that.”
He says he enjoyed the challenge of living a more heart healthy life. He willed himself to stop drinking and smoking and started to explore the foods of other cultures. “A part of me always knew I had to clean up my act and be healthy, but I never had motivation to act upon it.”
Then he met Community of Hope’s medical team.
“I’m finally listening to myself. Listening to my heart.”