Profile of Hope: Patricia Ealey shares why she would rather change her diet and excercise than take medication

Editor April 15th, 2014

Patricia Ealey is a Harlem resident and a participant in Project SHARE—a program aiming to decrease blood pressure for people living and working in Upper Manhattan. Although Patricia has always been health-conscious, she recently learned through a Project SHARE screening that she had high blood pressure. To lower her pressure, she decided to work with Project SHARE to improve her diet and exercise. Here, Patricia discusses her choice to correct health problems with lifestyle changes rather than with medication.

Q: What motivated you to work with Project SHARE to manage your blood pressure?

A: I liked the idea that I would be able to work on managing my blood pressure by making lifestyle changes. I was surprised when Tenisha, the SHARE Community Health Worker, told me that my blood pressure was high. I was trying to do what I thought was the right thing by eating right and exercising (I have never taken any medicine my whole life, I just take vitamins). I have always been against taking medication. For instance, I remember once I went to the doctor and she told me my cholesterol was high. Right away she wrote a prescription and I said, “I am not taking that.” I went home and I looked up some ways to reduce cholesterol without taking medicine.  One of them was low fat milk. Another was more vegetables and less other things.  I started doing that for my cholesterol. I realized that sometimes you can change things around without medicine if you can just correct your diet. When I went back to my doctor, my cholesterol was normal and it has never been a problem since. That’s why when Tenisha told me it was high, I was like, “What else can I do?”  I know for high blood pressure people take medicine, but I said, “I am not taking any medicine.”  She gave me a whole bunch of ideas to further change my diet and exercise that helped me to stay away from taking medication.

Q: It sounds like when there is a health problem you take it seriously and you try to address it without medication.

A: Yes, in Harlem we have a lot of little free health seminars, so I would go to them whenever I had time and I would learn a lot just by sitting in. For instance, I learned that sometimes taking medication to improve one thing can affect something else. I learned to be really careful. Rather than worry about how medications are going to affect my organs or give me side effects, I would rather just change my diet. And if it means that I have to exercise, then that’s what I have to do. Luckily I am a person who loves to exercise. I think that exercise and diet are key.

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