Why did I build this website - and how?



Dr Neil Johnson

I had many patients with high blood pressure during my years of medical practice in England. During that time I had been very lucky with my health, and negligently I never bothered to check my own blood pressure.

Diagnosis - High Blood Pressure

My hypertension was discovered when I turned 40 and had a medical for an insurance policy. At the time I blamed it on the fact that my recently born son, Jordan, was going to need open heart surgery. He had his surgery and has done well ever since - but my BP stayed up.

I decided to follow the advice I gave to my patients and tried to bring down my blood pressure by lifestyle changes – exercise, diet etc. It was all very unstructured and half-hearted and I failed to achieve more than a 5 point drop, so I started on drugs and got on with life: before I knew it I was on two drugs.

Why lifestyle measures were not working

I had noticed that hardly any of my patients ever succeeded in getting much of a drop in blood pressure from making lifestyle changes. Yet, the available evidence suggested that a combination of measures had a good chance of achieving at least a 10 to 20 point drop in blood pressure readings. I thought my practice was pretty good at giving the necessary support to hypertensive patients. Anyone with hypertension would automatically have some follow-up appointments with the practice nurse, we would give them a ton of leaflets and offer access to a nutrition adviser, smoking cessation clinic and a variety of other services. The one thing we did not do is give them was active support to make systematic changes and help them to sustain these over the long term.

So when a patient pitched up at my clinic some months later, BP still raised, we would both agree that lifestyle measures had failed and out would come the prescription pad.

Help - I need a website!

In the back of my mind I knew it was financially impractical to offer intensive personalised short term support to people to help them initiative the changes and to follow this with long-term support to keep it up. But as the internet picked up in sophistication, providing more interactivity and flexibility, something in the back of my mind told me that it might be the missing link – now perhaps it would be possible to offer patients the support that they needed.

There was only one problem – I had enough trouble getting Microsoft Word to do what I wanted – how on earth would I build a website? This would be a long-term commitment and the practice website was taking a lot of money to maintain. We would not be able to afford a web designer/programmer to add on the type of functionality I envisaged. In any case, there were competing priorities with my practice partners (I was the one interested in cardiology) and if I wanted to do this it had to be a personal project. So I put it off, month after month.

Then two things happened.

First, I got serious about bringing down my BP. I listed out the lifestyle changes that had quality evidence that they worked, I put them in the order that I wanted to begin implementing them and started a more disciplined approach to living a BP-friendly lifestyle. After 9 weeks, I had lost weight thanks to an increase in exercise and a better diet, and altogether this had brought down my pressure by 7 points.

I got disciplined about salt and kept up my changes and managed to get another 5 points off. This enabled me to go back down to one drug.

The second thing that happened was that a close friend of mine who had become unemployed, set up an online business and began doing quite well for himself working from home a few hours a day. What amazed me was that he set up the website by himself. He had found an online product that automated all the technical stuff and enabled him to concentrate on what he did best.

A solution called Solo Build It!

So I did some research on the programme, was convinced, and signed up. And that was it – I finally got to do what I had wanted to for so long. Not only have I been able to get a website up and running but the process has been so straightforward I have been able to put most of my time into where it counts – the contents of the site. (In case you are curious about it you can read more details here.)

My site's gone up - my BP's come down

So, now I am implementing my grand idea – to set up a site that will provide the necessary lifestyle support to help people with BP-friendly lifestyle changes. I am able keep up a busy working week, maintain the website and feel that I will be able to provide the missing link for my patients and the new people I am meeting online weekly – you may not believe it, but just being able to do that has taken a few more points off my BP!

Thanks for dropping by – I hope you have found the site interesting. There is a lot more to come so do drop by regularly, or subscribe to our RSS feed so that we can notify you as developments occur.

NJ



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This page was last modified on : April 18, 2011.















Credentials

  • Medical Degree - MBBS, University of London, 1984
  • General Practitioner with a special interest in Cardiology
  • 30 years of experience in healthcare communications
  • Health Promotion Specialist

For a full biography please email nojohnson@control-high-blood-pressure.com or use the feedback button on the left menu bar.

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