Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Hypertension 29: Playing By The Numbers

Wait for it: more than many other medical conditions, Hypertension (including weight/fat) are weighted down by weighty numbers. Tom Waits should sing about it.

Last week, just before I got the flu, I met with a phys/ed person at my speciality gym to get the results of my stress test. The stress test, taken in December, involving having my chest shaved so electrodes could be attached, and then putting me on a treadmill and making me walk fast until I almost wet my pants--at least I was panting a lot. They also took some blood, and measured my blood pressure. I should add that they were very nice about it.

The objective of the stress test was to see what kind of shape I was in, and whether I needed any specific programmes. For the results, I met for an hour with one of the phys/ed persons. She explained everything. In the end, it was all about the numbers.

To wit:

My cardiovascular endurance, measured in METS, was 7.3. This was average for someone in my shape, including my weight. According to the paper she gave me, "One MET represents the rate oxygen is consumed per kg. of body weight per minute at rest--i.e. 10 mets is 10 times oxygen consumed at rest." Got that?

My heart rates, per minute? Resting, 71. Maximum (when I was plugging away on the treadmill, bravely telling the young women watching me I was okay and they did not have to slow it down--would I have been as brave if they were young men?), 131. Sub Maximum was (6.4) 118. Submaximum rates are "valuable indicators" for the effects of exercising. Again, my numbers were about average, given my physical shape (round).

To achieve optimal aerobic capacity, I was encouraged to work towards a target heart rate range of 70-85% of my maximum, or between 95 to 115 beats per minute, or 16 to 19 beats per second.

My weight in kilograms was 102 (remember, I'd been gaining weight as the new meds make me less energetic while reducing my metabolic rate--get that look off your face!). My BMI (weight to height squared) was 34. My waist was a waste. It was 112 centimetres (NOT inches!), with an immediate goal of reducing it to 108. My waist/hip ratio, "F-<0.8/M-<1.0" (huh?) was .99.

The analysis of my blood yielded more numbers.

My cholesterol was at the top end, but not completely desperate: 5.2. The anti-cholesterol drugs had something to do with that. My good cholesterol, the HDL stuff, which should be between 1 - 2.6 mol/L, was 1.1 That had to go up. The cholesterol/HDL ratio (<4.5 mmol/L) (huh?) was 4.7, while my bad cholesterol, the LDL stuf, which should be no higher than 3.4, was 3.1. The bad number should go down.

Triglycerides? Should be 1.7, was 2.25. Blood glucose levels, which should be between 3.1 - 6.4 mmol/L, was 5.6. Hemoglobin was 144.

Finally, the blood pressure I had just before starting the stress test was 126/92. The 126 was fine, but she wanted me to get the diastolic reading down to 80 (remember when one specialist told me that, after the age of 42, that number did not matter?).

Basically, all that means I'm too fat and have too much junk in my blood.

Or: my number(s)('s) up. Hahahaha. The good news is, I'm not dead yet. But next week I will probably have to start lifting weights (that is supposed to increase my metabolic rate--and I DON'T want to know what that number is!)

Oh yeah: I now have to exercise forty minutes, at least three times a week, up from thirty minutes. Yes: more numbers!

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