THE BLOG
14/03/2016 17:10 GMT | Updated 15/03/2017 05:12 GMT

Argh - I'm in My Fifties and My Body Is Playing Up

Yui Mok/PA Archive

There's no doubt about it. In our 50s our bodies start PLAYING UP.

Creaking knees, stiff hips, bad backs, prolapsed vaginas, it's all going on. So I wasn't entirely surprised when I was recently diagnosed with high blood pressure.

I have a stressful life but yes, I'm also an hysteric, a screaming neurotic who has indulged in her fair share of unhealthy snacking, smoking and boozing over the years, there's unfortunately also a genetic link - my father had a series of heart problems.

I'm not telling you what my blood pressure reading was because it would be akin to giving you my weight, but it was well over the norm (ahem, pretty similar to my weight then).

The doctor wondered if the first readings could be a case of white coat syndrome because I get myself into a bit of a tizz every time I step into a GP surgery, but after wearing a cuff which monitored me for 24 hours I was given my diagnosis.

It seems my blood pressure is okay when I'm asleep but goes up and down during the day.

We all know that high blood pressure is linked to all sorts of horrible things like stroke and heart disease so it's time to get a grip.

I've read enough to know that high blood pressure can also cause something called atrial fibrillation - irregular heart rhythm - which (although treatable when detected) causes about 20% of strokes in the UK.

I'm now testing my heart rhythm every couple of days with a fancy new Boots monitor that has a breakthrough alert for atrial fibrillation, and also measures my blood pressure.

I gave up smoking a decade ago and follow a reasonably sensible diet with lots of vegetables but salty food are my weakness. I'm always picking at things like bacon, pastrami, ham and, my favourite, crisps. Then there's the necessary bowl of nuts with a glass of wine. I'm weak.

Salt can be a cause of high blood pressure and I love salty food. I'd eat a pig from the tail to the snout. I don't binge but I'm always having a little bit of this and a little bit of that through the day.

Right now I'm on a 50 day stand up tour which makes life even harder when it comes to eating well. I'll eat sandwiches from garages when I'm on the road and heat up convenience foods in the microwave of my dressing room.

When I'm touring I'm at the mercy of anything I can grab.

Exercise is hard too. I love swimming (and diving after appearing on ITV's Splash) but when I'm constantly moving around it's not always easy to find a pool if there's not one at a hotel.

When I'm not on the road I'll exercise three times a week; one swim session, one gym and one pilates. But I need to work harder. Pilates is the class for bone idle middle-aged women who want to have a snooze at the back of the class near the radiator.

I don't know why I'm overweight to be honest. It's not like I eat sweets, cakes or biscuits as I don't have a sweet tooth. Maybe I messed up my metabolism when I was anorexic in my younger years.

But now I have to cut out all those salty treats and sort out my exercise regime. I'm thinking of getting a dog but one with short legs so he'll be happy with a nice little stroll around the block (avoiding the bakery that does those sausage rolls obviously).

Getting this diagnosis isn't great because I'm already a hypochondriac and constantly look up symptoms on Google - lately, I've had everything from gout to dengue fever.

We're all a bit health obsessed nowadays. In the old days we never discussed what was wrong with us. Back in the day my greandmother would pop a white pill under her tongue and my relatives would say she was having one of her 'funny turns'. I now know they were beta-blockers.

Discussing women's problems was never the done thing either, it was always 'she's got trouble with her downstairs.'

Now we know the health terms for everything. I think it comes from watching shows like Casualty.

It can be tough being in your fifties. Friends of mine have also started falling to pieces too and are suffering from all kinds of ailments, several are breast cancer survivors, sadly sometimes the health dice don't roll in your favour.

When I look back I don't regret all that food and alcohol but I do regret not starting my exercise regime earlier. Any woman out there in her 40s who is a bit overweight and doesn't exercise needs to give themselves a kick up the backside - now!

Prevention is always better than cure, as they say.