BP – as in blood pressure, not petrol!

My valued readers may remember my post about ‘a bit of’.  A ‘bit of weight’; a ‘bit of cholesterol’; a ‘bit of diabetes; and so on. Looking back at older posts, I see that I wrote that post on 8th March.

What I said on that day is something I would like to repeat today and I will probably return to the subject time and again as I try to hammer home the crucial core message:-

There is no such thing as ‘a bit of’. You either have it or you don’t!  The ‘bits of’ have already started their destructive paths in your body and will continue to do so unless you take charge of your choices right now!

In my observations and personal experience, we typically see these (lifestyle induced) patterns manifesting around our 40th birthday. Very sadly, we are also seeing more of these conditions emerging in much younger people. I seem to recall reading that 19-year old Americans in the Vietnam war already showed signs of arteries clogging up; the trend has been growing for decades. Just look, really look around you in a shopping mall; particularly in the food courts. Obese parents loading all sorts of junk food onto their plates and ordering the same for their plump, chubby or already obese kids. I feel sick at heart as I observe it all.

I recently watched a 40-something man sitting at a small restaurant table with his knees spread wider than the table. He could not close his knees because his stomach was resting on the chair seat between his legs. He was simultaneously reading the morning paper, while shovelling bacon, sausage, eggs, toast etc down his throat as if there would be no tomorrow. His two obese kids of primary school age sat at the table with him also shovelling down… guess what?  Neither he nor his children were actually paying much attention to what they were so avidly consuming. It was a mindless, well practised exercise in gluttony.

Do not get me wrong, there is nothing more ‘lekker’ than an ‘English breakfast’ of bacon, eggs etc as an occasional treat to be savoured and enjoyed. My W-L  group leader says that she loves to prepare her own lunchtime version of the ultimate sandwich, cut it into 4 triangles and then really look at it with pleasure and anticipation before eating it!

One of the many lifestyle induced health dragons we usually face is hypertension -high blood pressure. My spouse W & I have to take our blood pressure readings on a very regular basis. W because of ischaemic heart disease – he now has two coronary stents – and me because of diabetes and the other other dragons of Metabolic Syndrome.

While on holiday this month, we took BG (blood glucose) as well as BP readings every day; our children were not even aware that this was part of our daily routine even on holiday. All readings are recorded and then transcribed into Benutriwise as data for our GP, Dr Anna.

I recently upgraded our BP cuff – we now have the type that takes the readings at the press of a button and gives digital readouts. It also averages the readings for the previous 30 days; all of which is crucial information for the GP as well as the cardiologist.

We have HARTMANN brand BP cuffs (a German make) which Dr Anna tells me are about the best on the market. Taking info from their user manual, I quote hereunder:

“The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the International Society of Hypertension (ISH) have developed the following classifications for blood pressure values:”

Assessment Systolic pressure Diastolic pressure
Optimal up to 120 mmHg up to 80mmHg
Normal up to 130 mmHg up to 85 mmHg
Normal limit values 130 – 139 mmHg 85 – 89 mmHg
Grade 1 hypertension 140 – 150 mmHg 90 – 99 mmHg
Grade 2 hypertension 160 – 179 mmHg 100 – 109 mmHg
Grade 3 hypertension over 180 mmHg over 110mmHg
     

“ Established hypertension is defined as repeated measurement of a systolic value greater than 140 mmHg and/or a diastolic value greater than 90 mmHg. Please note that this classification of blood pressure values is independent of age. Optimal blood pressure values have health benefits for all people. There is no generally recognised definition of too low blood pressure (hypotension). Readings of less than 100mmHg systolic and less than 70 mmHg diastolic are considered too low. Please note that, unlike too-high blood pressure values, too-low blood pressure values are not usually expected to be associated with health risks. However, if you are always feeling unwell, you should check with your doctor. “

“ Constantly elevated blood pressure multiplies the risk for other health problems.

Also according to HARTMANN, high blood pressure elevates the risk for thickening and/or weakness of the heart muscle 7 times and the risk of stroke 8 times.

Constant hypertension also leads to vascular damage. Additional increased risks are quoted as follows: Heart attack 3 times; shrunken kidney/kidney problems/kidney failure 6 times; impaired blood flow 2 times; and arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) 8 times.

When W was admitted to a cath lab for the first stent, he commented to the theatre sister that she must see a lot of heart disease in her line of work. She looked at him, sighed and said, “ Yes and the sad part of it is that it is all self inflicted.”

My cardiologist showed me very carefully where my heart muscle has thickened due to poorly controlled hypertension. It’s sobering stuff I can tell you.

Is this post meant to scare you? No, it is not. It is meant to present the facts about the serious consequences of uncontrolled or poorly controlled hypertension. It is also intended to encourage those not yet medicated and monitored by a doctor to most urgently monitor their BP over a period of time and take corrective action – be that drastic lifestyle modification and/or medication.

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