I have some medical news and it’s less than a year old! The Cleveland Clinic reported, New High Blood Pressure Treatment Guidelines. This is a big deal to me. I don’t suffer from high blood pressure, but I do suffer rather badly from high blood pressure hypochondria. It isn’t about dying really. I don’t mind dying so much, although I do think I’m deserving of another 25 years. At that point, my shelf-life will certainly have expired. But one thing is for certain: I don’t want to die of a heart attack.
The problem is that I spend the vast majority of my waking hours typing at a keyboard. And I have started to suffer from some minor carpal tunnel syndrome in my left arm and hand. It is basically just some numbness. And what is numbness of the left arm the first sign of? A heart attack! Yes, I know what you’re thinking, “Since you know it is just carpal tunnel and heart attacks are more about the upper arm and shoulder, shouldn’t you just calm down?” And the polite answer to that is, “No!” The not so polite answer to that is, “How dare you insult my hypochondria!”
There is a very real problem with the traditional blood pressure charts. They tell you that the perfect blood pressure is 120/80. But then they say that pre-hypertension is a systolic value of 120-139 or a diastolic of 80-89. So basically, you are being told, “You blood pressure is perfect; and its in the range where we start to get worried.” Of course, your blood pressure could be too low as well. Hypotension is defined as a blood pressure below 90/60. The ultimate hypotension is 0/0 where you’re dead.
In addition to the mathematical problems with the pre-hypertension, I find this offensive because when I was skinny, which was 45 years of my life, my blood pressure was always around 90/60, and no one ever said anything, except that one time I almost died and it was 60/40. Since I got pudgy about five years ago, my blood pressure has gone up. Today, it seems to be about 111/75. But depending upon when I take it and how much caffeine I’ve been drinking, it can easily get into that pre-hypertension area. And this concerns me because, as I said: (1) I deserve 25 more years; and (2) I don’t want to die of a heart attack.
Well, the big news about the new guidelines is that they’ve gotten rid of the whole idea of pre-hypertension. It doesn’t say why, but I suspect that there is a picture of me in some scientific paper with a caption that reads, “This guy is the perfect example of why we need to get rid of pre-hypertension.” I obsess about it and that can’t be good for my blood pressure or any other part of my body functioning. If I had actual hypertension, then it could be treated. But the idea that I kinda, sorta have a condition that some day might be something that we might want to think about treating is enough to bring on a heart attack!
The new guidelines also get rid of the old rigid standards for hypertension. They are more nuanced and especially take into account the age of the patient. I’m not quite sure what the issue is here, other than that people’s blood pressure does tend to go up as they get older. But I suspect a lot of it is an effort to stop over-treating people with medications that may do more harm than good.
But the heart rate guidelines are still the same as always: 60 to 100 beats per minute, unless you are an athlete, who can have heart rates that are as low as 40. In this regard, my heart rate has always been high: around 90. I could probably bring that down if I got a little more exercise. It probably wouldn’t hurt regarding that carpal tunnel either.