Monday, April 15, 2013

Running, Pregnancy and Hypertension

Runners are generally fit, healthy people, who take care of their bodies, set goals, some are intense and want to win, and others do it more leisurely. I am more of a competitor who just enjoys running for fun, who isn't out there to win. I have never been a runner in my life up until the last 8 years. I want to beat old PR's, and yes, I like passing people on the home stretch, sometimes I even count how many people I pass at the end of a marathon, its fun, and it keeps me going.

You don't hear of too many serious runners who have chronic hypertension. I was diagnosed with it in 2005, have tried over 8 different kinds of meds, and many different diets to help control this medical condition. When I had a phone intake with my cardiologist, she asked me all the common questions, "what is your diet like, do you exercise, how much sodium do you take in, etc" When I walked into her office, her jaw dropped and she said, "wow, you aren't what I expected. Many people who have chronic hypertension are obese, don't take care of their bodies, and eat like shit" B/c all the meds are made up for overweight, old people who arent' active, finding a medication was merely impossible for me. We finally found one at the lowest dose that finally worked, controlled my heartrate, didnt' knock me to the ground, and still allows me to exercise. Shortly after being diagnosed with this, I was running a 10K race in Stillwater, and stopped mid-race thinking I was having a heart attack. I went to my cardiologist the next day, and she had me go through a battery of tests at Abbott and the Mayo. The tests showed that I had too much muscle mass on my heart, and when I trained hard for a marathon, this muscle mass grew, which caused my heart to expand outside of the heart cavity, mimicking a heart attack. At that point, I was limited to only training and running one marathon a year. Not cool.

So obviously exercising with chronic hypertension is already high risk, you add being pregnant and having hypertension and you are at even higher risk. My blood pressure stayed stable up until weeks 28 and 30 respectively during my two pregnancies. The best thing you can do during pregnancy while having high blood pressure is exercise. This gives you and your baby more oxygen and increases blood flow which in the end of way healthier. I was cut off from exercise at some point during each pregnancy due to my blood pressure not being under control. Its hard when you are trying to do something so healthy for you and your baby but you are limited due to something that is out of your control. I was on a high protein, low sodium/salt diet which helped me get as far along in the pregnancies as I did without my numbers getting too high.

Both pregnancies I had pre-eclampsia, and I knew this would probably be the case. I am just thankful that I was able to make it as far as I did in both, seeing that many cases people have their babies much much earlier than I did (38 weeks and 36 weeks).

I am so glad I was able to exercise the majority of each pregnancies and I see how healthy both my babies came out, that I knew I must have been doing something right!

Count your blessings.... as I write this post, two explosives just went off at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Praying for all the runners and spectators, and praying that this was not an act of violence. What a horrible thing for the most respected race ever.

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