Saturday, November 25, 2006

Hypertension 14: Taking My Own Blood Pressure--Uh Oh!

For two weeks, starting September 15, 2006, while staying off work, I took my own blood pressure. I had bought the device in July. One of two brands recommended by my specialist, it cost around $90 Canadian. Three times a day I put the cuff on my right arm and, over a period of ten to fifteen minutes, took my blood pressure three times.

That's nine times a day. And I had sworn not to medicalize myself!

There are dangers to taking your own BP. One is the "medicalize yourself" part, where you can become obsessed with your medical condition and forget that life is to enjoy. Another is that you may get nervous doing it yourself (does that sound vaguely obscene?), leading to higher readings--some things are better left to the professionals (which also sounds vaguely obscene).

I don't think any of the readings during those two weeks were below 160. A handful were 200 or higher. One unforgettable evening, at around 11 pm, I took the following readings (like this blog, you should start at the last entry):

184/100 9/18 11:58 pm
183/97 9/18 11:55 pm
181/97 9/18 11:51 pm
178/100 9/18 11:48 pm
188/99 9/18 11:44 pm
179/96 9/18 11:35 pm
184/103 9/18 11:26 pm
182/99 9/18 11:18 pm
200/107 9/18 11:13 pm
191/108 9/18 11:06 pm

Talk about scary! Readings at 200 are potential stroke territory. Readings in the 180’s—you should lie down.

Ten readings in less than one hour.

I did not understand: I was calm, watching a movie, had a very relaxed day. Yet the readings started at 191, a Stage 3 level. They stayed high, then dropped, but kept moving around. If I was upset, why did they not go even higher? If I was calming myself, why did they not go lower? Why did they bounce up and down?

Why were they so high when I was at home relaxing, and not even at work?

One of the most troubling aspects of Hypertension is the emotional rollercoaster it creates. So little of it makes any sense. The conflicting treatments and differing medical opinions do not make much sense. Neither do varying blood pressure readings for no obvious reason.

The only ones who were making much cents were the doctors and the drug companies.

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