New Blood Pressure Guidelines

Blood PressureI 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.

0 thoughts on “New Blood Pressure Guidelines

  1. Why not a heart attack? Unless somebody saves you (basically paramedics with shocks to the heart; most CPR is performed on beds, useless, or on people with heart failure, darn close to useless), you’d be dead. If somebody saves you your chance of full mental and close-to-full physical recovery is quite high.

    Stroke, to me, is worse (and also a risk of high blood pressure.) The window between "saved from a heart attack" and "dead from a heart attack" is pretty narrow, so odds are you’d be saved or toast. The window between "onset of stroke" and "dead of a stroke" is much larger, with accordingly a lot more room for permanent brain or oxygen-deprived organ damage in between.

    Me, I dread strokes. And falls.

  2. @JMF – You just can’t let me feel better about my slowly declining body, can you? ;-)

    Yes, stoke is in my mind (Ha!), but I don’t know the signs of a coming stroke and I would really appreciate it if you didn’t tell me!

  3. LOL; my body’s going worse faster at a slightly younger age but I take pretty bad care of it.

    Basically your risk factors as a non-smoker, as long as you don’t live on a diet of pork chops and junk food, for either stroke or heart attack are not seriously worse than anyone else’s. From what I understand, BP isn’t as big a deal as clogged arteries, a problem exacerbated by diet/smoking. If you eat OK and don’t chain-smoke, you get to worry about cancer much more!

    I’m glad we have a growing organic-food movement, as I hope it builds antagonism towards an agriculture industry that is poisoning the water/land and substantively contributing to global warming. I am a little perplexed by those who think they will add significant days to their life by religiously adhering to an organic food regimen. It probably does reduce your risk of disease caused by harmful chemicals but at a very low percentage when biology has already decided it’s time for you to die. By far the most important odds-improvers to enjoying a healthy post-breeding age are not smoking, not eating junk food, and staying relatively physically active. (You don’t have to snowboard, but you should walk a lot.)

    It’s like that Sinatra song, "Young At Heart" — "and if you should survive, to 105" . . . good Lord, who would want to? But the first few decades after prime breeding age are better if one takes care of oneself, or is rich and hits the Mayo Clinic every two years.

  4. @JMF – Yes, well I don’t smoke and I cook all my own food–when I’m home anyway. The problem is that I tend to cook like a Frenchman. I do love my fats. I make a fantastic Fettuccine Alfredo with shrimp. I love cream soups too. Just the same, I make things that seem marginally healthy like Minestrone and Gumbo. But I refuse to eat anything just because it’s good for me. Death is only bad if you are having a good time. I do not want to welcome death. At least for 25 years.

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