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Getting Screened at the Army Wellness Center & Treated for Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)

Blood pressure reader Image 041/365 - April 29, 2009 by Morgan on Flickr (creative commons)

Blood pressure reader from a doctor.

Since my blood pressure had been high the last few times I had been at a doctor, hypertension (high blood pressure) runs in my family, and multiple family members have had strokes, including an aunt who passed away at an age younger than I was at the time, my husband thought I should go in to the Army Wellness Center and get assessed. The Army Wellness Center at Landstuhl offers programs for weight management (including metabolic testing to assess caloric needs) fitness assessments (flexibility, muscular strength, cardio-respiratory fitness levels, and body composition) healthy nutrition, and stress management for soldiers and family members.

We stopped at the Army Wellness Center in January last year and were able to get an appointment for a morning a few days later. The appointment was to include metabolic testing, which I had to fast for. I figured I would go to bed around midnight and would be fine, but I ended up going to bed early and was asleep by 2100, so when I got up around 0800, I was starving. It was almost 10 by the time I finally got called in for my appointment.

I had expected to only have the metabolic test during this appointment, but it was a bit more than that. The man asked me questions about what I eat and drink and my activity. He weighed me. At the time I was 122.5 pounds, which had been a gain over a couple weeks prior. He measured my height at 65 inches. I’m not sure if that’s wrong or if previous people have measured me incorrectly as 67 inches. In any case, after weight and height, he put stickers and leads on my right hand and foot (two on each) and used a machine which provided results indicating I might be a little dehydrated and that I am almost at the average for my BMI (I think he said 27 but I don’t remember). He also measured my waist at narrowest.

Base Metabolic Rate and Max Power Testing today image via Tony Steward on Flickr (creative commons)

This is basically what the machine I was hooked to looked like, except my mask was solid blue.

Then we did the metabolic testing, which tells how many calories one needs to maintain one’s present weight. The test required me to sit for 15 minutes in a chair with a mask and “breath normally”. That was hard for me to do when I felt like I was suffocating in the mask. I’m a little claustrophobic to begin with, and my nose was stuffy on top of it. There were a few times where the machine beeped and he came over to ask if I was okay. It was a long 15 minutes. At least I had a book and the chair was comfortable. It was a massage chair, but I wasn’t allowed to use that part during testing.

After the results printed out, he told me that he estimated me burning 250 calories three times per week, although I know that would be low for the kind of workouts I do when I am doing them. I remember doing the Harris Benedict Equation during Insanity, and the caloric requirement for me to maintain weight was pretty high. Anyhow, by his estimate, I need 2011 calories per day just to maintain my weight at that activity level. He said that the issue will probably be getting me up to that and the quality of those calories, which I think is accurate. I used to drink protein shakes to get extra calories in when I was doing Insanity because I just can’t eat the amount of healthy food it would require to get that many calories.

I don’t remember what the blood pressure reading was but I think it was 150/something at the beginning and actually worse after the test, 165/100 I think. He said that the book I was reading (Loud in the House of Myself, which is about a woman with borderline personality disorder) didn’t sound relaxing and might account for some of the elevated blood pressure. I said it could be that, or 15 minutes in a machine I felt like I couldn’t breath in. In any case, I know that the blood pressure would have been too high regardless of those two things as it had been over 140/90 a couple times at the doctor’s office.

For those who are serious about food and fitness journaling, this Turbofire journal can help you track your goals, workouts, habits, and what you put into your body. It also includes a calorie counting guide, nutrition facts, and motivational tips from Chalene Johnson.

The guy asked me to keep a food journal with what I’m eating, the sodium, and the calories. I kept one for a few days in a  notebook  and realized there is a lot more salt in some of what I was eating than I should be taking in, so I started trying to cut a lot of that out. For example, although I know fresh fruits and veggies are best, I thought canned ones might be an acceptable compromise at times, but they’re often very high in sodium. By contrast, I found that frozen vegetables are lower in sodium. My blood pressure did come down some with cutting down on salt and getting back into exercising; however, it wasn’t enough.

I would have had to go back to the Army Wellness Center again to take a class about the results for further assistance from them, but I ended up at the doctor for something else first. When my blood pressure was high again and he could see in the history that it had been for more than three visits, as well as him knowing my family history, I was immediately put on blood pressure medication. He gave me a couple different options. One was a diuretic, which I told him was not happening with me working as a substitute teacher at the time, and the other was Lisinopril. I started taking that, and it brought down my blood pressure into the normal range. Diet and exercise are still important (and I still have improvements to make in both areas), but at least I don’t have to live in fear that I will have a stroke in the meantime.

If you’re a soldier or family member stationed in the area and would like to have a fitness assessment or assistance with healthy nutrition, stress management, or weight management, you can find information for the Landstuhl Army Wellness Center below as well as at this site.

Address: Building 3722 (colocated with the fitness center) on Landstuhl

Hours: 730-1200 and 1300-1630 Monday through Friday

Phone Numbers: 06371-9464-5881 (Civilian) and 590-5881 (DSN)


If you’ve been for a wellness screening or used wellness services, particularly at a military wellness center, and want to share your experience, feel free to do so in the comments below! 



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