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Super Bowl, Joe Montana and blood pressure

By: George Malkemus
February 8, 2019

Super Bowl LIII was played at Atlanta last Sunday. 41-year-old Tom Brady and the New England Patriots beat 24-year-old Jared Goff and the Los Angeles Rams, 13-3. Two offensive juggernauts were pitiful.  Only if you like punting and defense, then the game was a joy. The Patriots won their 6th Super Bowl after making nine appearances during the Tom Brady-Bill Belichick era. Brady is a phenom and considered by many as the greatest quarterback in NFL history. Joe Montana is the best of a more physical past era and dear to 49er fans. The 49ers had a poor record this past year, only winning 4 games, but wait until next year!

The Super Bowl brings back memories of Joe. Joe Montana is Mr. Super Bowl, after winning four Super Bowls with no losses, no interceptions and being the Super Bowl MVP three times.  Joe is still the man in the hearts of 49er fans.  With the recent Super Bowl, I am reminded of an article that I wrote 11 years ago about Joe Montana and high blood pressure. Thanks Joe for the memories and being a role model. The article follows. 


Lowering blood pressure - Joe Montana as a great role model!

Have your blood pressure checked regularly!  More than 65 million Americans have high blood pressure, but over 20 millions of them don’t know it. While you may not feel any symptoms, unmanaged high blood pressure puts you at risk for serious medical conditions.

What is blood pressure?

Your heart beats about 100,000 times each day, pumping 2,000 gallons of blood through your blood vessels. The force of blood against the inside walls of your vessels create blood pressure.

Why treatment is so important?

Keeping your blood pressure from getting too high is important. Lower blood pressure allows your blood to move more easily through your body. This helps avoid damage to your blood vessels, eyes and kidneys. It also reduces your risk of stroke, heart attack and other serious health problems. Though usually you will not notice any symptoms from high blood pressure, having high blood pressure makes your heart work harder and basically wears the heart out sooner. 

Medical Guidelines

Medical guidelines state that a normal blood pressure for adults is less than 120/80 mm Hg. Drug treatment is recommended if your blood pressure is at or above 140/90 mm Hg. For people with diabetes or chronic kidney disease, drug treatment is recommended for a blood pressure level of 130/80 mm Hg or higher.

Joe Montana’s lower blood pressure

 I recently sent “Healthy Smile” magazine to all my patients to improve their knowledge on health.  Joe Montana’s battle with high blood pressure was the featured article.  In Joe’s article, he wanted everyone to know his own experience of controlling his blood pressure and help others control theirs. The following is from that article.

At age 46, Joe was diagnosed with high blood pressure.  He was shocked.  “I felt perfectly fine and had no symptoms or anything,” he says.  “Even though I had a family history, I really didn’t think that it would affect me.”  He turned 51 in June, but now he has his blood pressure under control.  His game plan has been taking blood pressure medications, eating a better diet and getting regular exercise.  

Joe Montana’s high blood pressure medications

When first diagnosed, he was put on one high blood pressure medication, but this medication didn’t work for him.  Then his doctor prescribed a pill that tackles high blood pressure by combining two medications. “It lowered my blood pressure and since then, with the lifestyle changes, I’ve been under 120 over 80.” If you’re on blood pressure medication, make sure the medication is working for you. Almost 50 percent of people on blood pressure medication still have numbers that aren’t low enough. That’s why it’s important to work with your doctor to get it right! You may find it helpful to buy a home blood pressure monitor. It’s an easy way to keep track of your blood pressure and see the progress you’re making towards your blood pressure goal

Joe Montana’s diet change

Montana cites two key changes to his diet: Less salt and smaller portions.  “I used to salt my food without even tasting it.”  And instead of a 20-ounce porterhouse, “now I have the 6- or 8-ounce fillet.”  “The kids have been a help, too.  They’ll move the saltshaker away.  They’ll move the seconds portions to the other side of the table so I can’t get to them.”  Montana also slowed the speed of his eating, savoring his food more.  “I was always eating so fast and on the run that I never even gave myself enough time for my stomach to say I was full.”

Joe Montana and exercise 

When Montana retired in 1995, he was in great shape. In the next few years, he gained 8 to 10 pounds. “I figured after 31 years of playing football and working out all the time, I could cut back a little bit.”  After his high blood pressure diagnosis, Joe renewed his dedication towards regular exercise.  Now Joe does cardiovascular exercise most days for at least 45 minutes.  He often uses a stationary bike or treadmill, and adds light weight lifting, a few times a week.

Joe Montana Sets a Great Example

I encounter many patients, who are in denial about their high blood pressure.  They don’t have any symptoms and they don’t feel they should have to take medication.  If Joe Montano can take medication without question, then there is no good reason for others.  Joe sets a great example.  He wants to let everyone know that high blood pressure “can affect anyone-that you may not look or think or feel that you’ll ever have it, but you’ll be just like I was.” For many people, exercise and making healthier food choices are helpful, but like Joe Montana not enough to lower their blood pressure to safe levels and so medication is necessary. 

Dentistry and blood pressure

Standard of care in dentistry is to check a patient’s blood pressure before beginning any treatment.  In my office, we have begun checking blood pressure with all new patients as well as before treatment procedures.  Also with sedated patients, blood pressure, pulse and oxygen levels are continual monitored with using a pulsoximeter.  My office often finds patients with unknown elevated blood pressure.  They are routinely referred to their physician for evaluation.  Remember to seek regular medical physicals as well as dental check-ups! 

George Malkemus has had a family and cosmetic dental practice in Rohnert Park for more than 27 years. He can be reached at 585-8595 or e-mail info@ Visit for more information.