Friday, September 6, 2013

A Way To Think About High Blood Pressure

Just imagine you are going on a long road trip with the family.  You check the oil, gas etc.  Just before putting the kids in the car, you fill the tires with air until the pressure is 20 points above its rating.  The gas station attendant warns that you may have a blowout on the highway.  You answer the car rides fine at that pressure and you would know if there is something wrong. Well, that's the logic I am confronted with every day when it comes to blood pressure control.

 Your body is rated to work best at 115-120/80.  That means that at the normal blood pressure your heart and organs will function at maximum efficiency and last the longest.  Analysis of the data from Framingham Heart study demonstrates that just  a 2-mmHg reduction in blood pressure would result in 14% reduction in the risk of stroke and transient ischemic attacks, and a 6% reduction in risk of coronary heart disease. Look at the graph below.  For every 20/10 rise in bp, your risk for cardiovascular death doubles. 

Optimizing your blood pressure will significantly reduce the risk of stroke and cardiovascular death.  It is important you to monitor your own bp and keep a record of your readings. Show you doctor a variety of readings at different times of day. That would give a more "real world" indication of your blood pressure.  I recommend Omron monitors using a brachial (not wrist) cuff.  If you don't want to buy one (about $50 on amazon)  most local pharmacies have one for customer use. 

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