As I’ve indicated on this blog before, I developed kidney problems after being laid off from my company last year. My latest visit with my nephrologist indicated that my kidneys were functioning at 70%. It sounded really bad to me at first, but the doctor indicated that 70% is a perfectly fine functionality for someone’s kidneys – meaning if they kept functioning at level, I could still live a long and healthy life, without any serious health issues. The problem is that, normal functionality for people my age is around 99%. The fact that it is 70% at my current age indicates a significant level of risk for that it may drop as I get older.
So how do I combat this? Well unfortunately, there’s no pill or magic bullet to fix your kidneys. The best and seemingly only way to improve / maintain kidney function is to keep your blood pressure low. Below is a chart depicting my blood pressure over the past 4 months.
The graph shows the two key measures of a blood pressure reading: Systolic and Dialostic millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). A normal blood pressure reading is approximately 130 / 80 for Systolic and Dialostic respectively. For someone with my condition, I need to be at 115 / 75.
As you can tell from the chart, my blood pressure is improving over time. This has come from the tapering of medication and a significantly increased workout regimen. Early on when I was told about the 115 / 75 target, I thought it would be impossible to hit. But since I’ve made these changes to my lifestyle, I’ve had many readings below the target reading.
From a charting perspective, I was able to create this chart by using data from my OMRON blood pressure monitor. The software is pretty cool actually; you can use a USB cable to link the monitor directly to your computer to download and track data.
The chart itself has some unique design features. One thing I always do with my charts is remove or de-emphasize gridlines. You can see in this chart, I left gridlines in because the target measures were relevant for this view. However, I did make them the lightest shade of gray possible so it doesn’t distract from the data. Additionally, you can see that the background of the chart is highlighted with regard to month. This is an extremely useful Excel trick that I will detail in a later post.