Lowering the Pressure…


I have an Omron blood pressure monitor to take my own BP as I suffer badly from white coat syndrome.  It looks a bit like this but it’s an older model and it certainly didn’t cost that much.

2011 was a good year – no falls, broken bones or surgeries – so I got out of the habit of taking my BP because I wasn’t seeing any doctors.  I had probably not taken my BP at home in more than 9 months.

Just after Thanksgiving I had my yearly medical and my BP was high in the doctor’s office but she sort of wrote it off because she “knows”  I’m monitoring it at home and would mention if it was getting high on my own machine…….

Three weeks later I went back for a follow up to zap sun spots as our insurance doesn’t cover any “procedures”  during a medical even though she had plenty of time to stun the spots with nitrogen.  This visit she said “wow, your BP is very, very high” and asked what readings I was getting at home – ummmmm – sprung..     She took it 6 or 7 times getting a higher reading each time as it started to hurt both my arm and my head!

She eventually released me with homework –  take my BP twice a day and fax the readings to her at the end of January.

I came home fully expecting my machine to show the usual 120/80 previously recorded but the figures which came up really scared me.   They were in the high 150’s over 110+ range.   I didn’t remember the figures the doctor got but if my BP was this high while “relaxed” at home it must’ve been in the critical range at her office.    Perhaps my machine was malfunctioning……..   subsequent readings showed similar disturbing numbers which discounted that theory.

Given that my father had his massive stroke at 54 and his father died even younger than that from cerebral hemorrhage, I was frightened.  I tearily said to the manservant “it’s one thing to have a stroke and just die because I won’t know anything,  but I don’t want to have a stroke and survive  like dad for more than  20 or 30 years”  (though dad would say he’s very glad he survived).

I took a hard look at the last few months –  well the year really.  All the worry over my father and being so far from home & the decisions being made;  worrying about my kids, especially the Economist with his near garroting and then the collapsed lung;    lots of stress & uncertainty at work – would I lose my job;  would I move offices;  would I have the same position in the new office;  if I stayed in the old office what would my role be;    I ultimately moved offices but went on my own – no work friends went with me  –  the only good thing was the 3 miles from home.

Then came the period from Thanksgiving to Christmas – lots of entertaining and being entertained.   These occasions started to spill from the weekends into the working-week nights.   My diet, alcohol consumption and sleep were going to hell.    Just as well I was still walking….

After Christmas I determined to cut down on salt (hence the less bacon resolution), cut back on the alcohol (my one glass-of-wine-a-day had expanded into 2, 3, 4, more…..) and to find some zen.

In the last 2 weeks my readings have lowered heaps but they’re still higher than “normal”   –  they’re now in the 130’s over mid 90’s.   I no longer feel that my blood is trying to injure me and I’m optimistic the numbers  will continue to lower as long as I control those “bad”  elements –  really I’m quite happy with one glass of wine a night and  I like fruits & veggies ;  I  just need to work on some de-stressing techniques as family & work will always worry me.

And on the subject of fruit & veggies …….   we were watching the news the other night when the presenter said a new study showed that  “eating 3 kiwis a day could lower your blood pressure”  ……     I’m sure New Zealanders would call that cannibalism.

And they must be dismayed by this:


39 responses

  1. Both of my grandfathers died from cerebral hemorrhages and Dad had his first heart attack when he was 66, so I understand what you’re worried about. I’ve also seen my blood pressure shoot up to 180/77 at the doctor’s, though I’ll swear it’s the anxiety I feel every time I go in for a checkup, lol. I also admit I love salty things—kettle-cooked potato chips, popcorn, and nuts. I used to claim the red wine I drank canceled out the salt I was consuming, but I’m at an age now where my alcohol and salt consumption are not a joke anymore. So I’m trying to cut back on both, and how I miss them. The stress issues haven’t gone away however (glancing over at Mom & Dad), and my poor bicycle hasn’t been taken out since my son and daughters played with it at Christmas. You at least walk daily during the week, which is head and shoulders above my slothful ways. I hope your children and father stay relatively safe and healthy, and your job situation stabilizes. (Employers should realize how much anxiety and grief they cause when they leave people hanging re their employment status.) And as my therapist used to say, deep breaths, take lots of them!

    • Yes HG I think once there’s a risk factor like family history it makes us much more aware and anxious. Dad’s mother died from a heart attack at 63 so his side obviously has some serious circulatory/coronary/BP problems. I’m now the same age as dad was when he had his stroke so I’m doubly aware of how careful I *should* be being. You would think the feeling of being invincible might be gone by this age! My diet is usually pretty good but we just partied too hard the last couple of months …… I’ve always been a huge worrier though and I don’t think that’s going to change – I just have to learn to “control” it better.

    • I used to do yoga and loved it. A friend would pick me up and we’d go to a sort of “restorative” yoga which was terrific for de-stressing but then the woman moved. The yoga places around me have the nice “quiet” classes during the day while I’m at work and in the evenings/weekends they have those sweaty type yoga classes which I’m really not into. I suppose I could get a DVD and do it myself …… ha ha – that would be something else to add to the things I’ve bought because I thought I’d do them!

  2. I had a bout of high blood pressure and found that I was taking too many decongestants….Sudafed type pills. I can now take antihistimines, but no more decongestants.
    Also my doc said no more than 2000 mg of sodium per day. That really wasn’t all that difficult to maintain.
    My blood pressure is great at the moment.
    I’m glad it’s coming down. Hang in there!

    • Yeah, the first thing I Googled when I was looking for reasons for the increase (excluding the extra salty/rich food and wine) was Zyrtec which I started nightly this year (2011). I thought it might have the same effect as decongestants/pseudoephedrine but like the antihistimines it said Zyrtec was okay. I used to aim for no more than 1500 mg of sodium a day – I lost my way on that the last few months – too many situations where we don’t have any control on what we were eating like at friend’s places/take away meals/restaurants. We don’t have any social activities planned until half way through February so that’ll give me a chance to get back on my plan.

    • My grandmother on mum’s side had low blood pressure – I could do with a bit of that now! Apparently Italy is now the leading producer of kiwi fruit followed by New Zealand, Chile, France, Greece, Japan and then the US.

  3. Hmmm … I’m wondering if “the manservant” was at home more in 2011 than usual …

    My favorite destressing routine is yelling at people … or petting a cat. My wife prefers it when I pet a cat.

    • I don’t think he was home more than usual during the year but he’s been here on a long 4 or 5 week homestretch now….. LOL – I was thinking that perhaps we should get an animal as studies show petting them helps lower the blood pressure. But then I thought how if I came home and found it had destroyed something “precious” I’d be so annoyed all the benefit would be gone in one stroke.

    • I don’t think many people realize that kiwi fruit are native to China. The first seeds were introduced to New Zealand in the early 1900’s and that’s where the “Chinese Gooseberry” name came from. There’s a bit of history dragged up from my school days! 🙂 I think the name changed to kiwi fruit when NZ started exporting to the US.

  4. My blood pressure is always higher when I am in a doctor’s office. It is somewhat normal, because people don’t like seeing doctors. Healthier is always better. I’m finally in a place where I can discuss with a doctor about the possibility of getting off my BP meds.

  5. Mr. sKz is the king of low blood pressure (but only when he moves… *sigh*). Now he’s got cholesterol tests back with him pushing ‘ridiculously off the charts’ level of the not-good kinds. That will happen when you barely move at all.

    I’m a big fan of using food and motion to heal things like this. I’ve also begun to consider that doctors, good as they are, still look at a person but see a “normal range” that belongs to a population. I think as long as you see things going in the right direction, you don’t have to worry. Bodies heal themselves very well, especially when you give them the tools, the time and the opportunity to go at it.

    Now go find yourself a tasty New Zealander and some BBQ sauce! Yum yum!

    • I know a couple of people with low BP – they say they have to get out of bed very slowly (I think that’s their excuse for being late to work! 🙂 ). I’m also a believer in allowing the body to heal itself – it’s a wonderful machine as long as one is putting the right fuel into it and “running” it appropriately.

  6. Try googling some yoga breathing techniques. That could help a bit. Also, this sounds hokey and it may be—but Amazon has a bunch of $.99 subliminal MP3 albums, maybe you can listen to some on your walk to and from work, when you’re doing dishes or whatever. You never know! I’ve had high cholesterol but never, ever high blood pressure. So the doctor didn’t prescribe anything, given your family & personal history, or is this the first time you’ve had the problem getting high readings at home? Good luck!

    • Hi cranky – this is the first time I’ve had these types of numbers at home – they’re really improving now so I’m not so stressed about it but I might look into those subliminal albums. Breathing techniques are good – I just need to get relaxed enough to do them; I’m not very good at sitting still – I keep thinking of all the things I should be doing instead of sitting there counting breaths.

  7. 1. Yoga or some type of meditation – even if it’s with headphones on listening to Pink Floyd
    2. red wine
    3. olive oil
    4. How do you feel about leaving your job? Retiring? Doing some travel, and I am absolutely sure you would be a wonderful writer? Can you afford it? If you can – this may save your life.
    Be healthy, Emjay! We have not gotten together in person yet!

    • I’d love to retire and travel but I think I’ll be on a walking stick before we can afford that. Yes, I have to find some meditation techniques and time and just let my mind go blank for awhile. I think my meditation music might be more “folksy” than Pink Floyd 🙂

  8. I do the same – monitor my BP at home due to white coat syndrome. I am on medication for BP. Genetic. I believe that it is the bottom figure, in your case the 90, that is the real issue. The top figure, the 130 goes up with age naturally to a degree. I also take an aspirin a day (cartia is easy on the stomach) as a extra as studies show it helps decrease chance of stroke. Good luck.

    • I’m really hoping to avoid BP medication FD so I’m being very conscious of what’s going into my body and I’ve noticed a good difference to my numbers since Dec 26th which is when I started the “plan”. She suggested an aspirin a day, which I did for about a week – it didn’t seem to agree with me – gave me bad indigestion.

  9. That *is* scary to be so high at home! I kinda thought to walked a lot and if you’re still doing that, it’s AWESOME. Being winter, though, maybe you cut back?

    If you can, a tmill is a wonderful thing. I know people complain about them but living where I do: no outdoor lights, my run “trail” is a pasture with mild to moderate inclines and lots and lots of MOLE HOLES or whatever to FALL into. I love running outside but if it’s too cold, wet or I dunno…whatever? I use the tmill. I bought it over 10 years ago (because I have naturally high cholesterol — and BP is high in Papa, The Duchess & Brother, so far, I’m the healthiest in *that* respect) and thank dog that baby still runs. Papa even uses it on occasion (since he had 5 heart attacks, he now and then walked .5 or 1 mile. I know it helps when he does it cos it helps ME and I’m almost 1/2 his age!

    I’m thinking of you, sweetheart!

    • Hi MT – yeah I’m walking less but I think my diet was just really, really, really bad and then a bit more bad. And you have to walk hard enough to get the heart rate up and I’m a bit of a dawdler. Wow that’s a hardy treadmill to still be going after 10 years – so many things are so disposable these days. – I’m glad it’s helping your Papa and you – not much room in this little row-house – I think Id be struggling to find room for even a fold up one.

  10. Is there any history of apnea in your family and have you been tested for it? Apparently it’s a huge contributor to high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes, and a lot of folks don’t even realise they have it. Just a thought… I know you’re covering all the bases you can.

    Wishing you wellness. 🙂

    • Thank you for the info LOM – that’s interesting about the apnea – I didn’t know that. I don’t think there’s a history of it in the family – at least not that I know of. I’ve told the manservant that he is to wake me if he hears me snoring……

  11. Sorry to hear that Emjay, what a shock. Can I suggest that you cut back on dairy, especially cheese, and eat more oily fish? That will help too.

    Good luck with getting it back to normal.

    • I love my cheese 🙂 One of my favourite weekly things is to go to the Farmer’s Market and get some cave-aged cheddar. The markets are closed for the winter so no nice cheese for Emjay for a while. We actually have salmon/tuna a couple of times a week when we’re eating “normally” – I blame Thanksgiving and friends for going outside the “normal” eating plan. LOL.

  12. Ack!! ((((((((((hugs))))))))))

    You’ve had a trying year and the “holidays” are very stressful for people; I hope things get back to normal with your BP.

    The KIWI fruit looks yummy. I didn’t know about that particular health benefit!

    • Thank you Robbie – I love kiwi-fruit and I found some really reasonably priced ones in the neighbourhood – they are full of flavour too which was a pleasant surprise. Holidays make it so hard to stick with a plan!

  13. Aw Sweetie, I hate health scares. Dang, I just read about some food that may lower blood pressure, I promise to find it I’d that’s what I saw. Do NOT drink licorice tea. I have low blood pressure and that tea made it skyrocket. Yoga and walks sound like a good idea.

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