Thursday, January 30, 2014

Is Your Blood Pressure Skewed?

by Glen Depke, Traditional Naturopath

So how many people show up at there doctors office and sit in the waiting room impatiently because the doctor is running late? Probably most of you if not all of you have experienced this at some point. Perhaps the doctor running behind is now creating stress for you because you notice that now you are going to be running late for a later engagement. Finally the nurse tells you to run in the back so she can take care of some of your vitals because the doctor will see you soon. So you hurry to the back of the office, plop down on a chair and here comes the blood pressure cuff. Surprise surprise, now your blood pressure come up as 140/90, which would be recognized as a stage I hypertension. Most doctors will recommend that you improve your diet (too bad these recommendations are typically off) and follow up in 6 months. All this while letting you know that if this does not improve in 6 months, you will be put on blood pressure meds. You're thinking...yikes!

So six months goes by and you have focused on the low fat, low protein, high vegetable and grain diet your doc has recommended, (not really the best diet) along with some cardiovascular exercise. As you sit in the waiting room for your follow up, you're starting to stress out again. This time, it is not because the doctor is late, it because your concerned about being put on blood pressure meds. Well sure enough, this time your blood pressure is 145/92. So sorry, but now you are lead down the path of meds for the rest of your life. These will potentially lead to further symptoms and of course, more meds.

You get it?

So what's wrong with this story?

How about first addressing what may have created the high reading in the first place? Sitting in the office, stressed out while you recognize you are going to be running late for something yourself. Then your rushed in the back and your reading was taken immediately. Lastly, your so stressed out at the potential of getting put one the meds that you create your own self fulfilled prophecy. The worry and concern leads to another high reading, which in turn lead to medications. Oh my....

So here's a couple of tips.

First off, I'll share that the directions on my blood pressure monitor say that once you have the patient in the cuff, let them relax for 2 minutes prior to taking the reading. So who has ever had a nurse or doctor do this? I never had but I do hope there are some out there that actually address this. I can share that last week our clinic was at a business health fair and one of the tools we provided was complimentary blood pressure screenings. Just for fun I did mine and I actually came back as prehypertensive at 133/80. Now this was no big deal to me because I knew I was running around and getting ready for the event and there was some stress of leaving something behind at our office, so you get it. Basically my reading was a response to stress and activity. Prior to writing this article I did by blood pressure reading and it came up as 112/73 and a pulse rate of 58. What's different? Did I take some meds to lower this? Of course not! I actually took this when my body was at rest to get an accurate reading.

How about other factors? Did you know that drinking a cup of coffee before going to your doctor can raise your blood pressure by 10 - 15 points? And the ever important stress factor. This can be huge and honestly, this stress factor can lead to a lifetime of medications. 

I'm really not even blaming the doctors here, their hands are tied. If they do not insist on the meds upon your follow up, they are liable for not following protocol. So even if they want to use natural methods to address this, they risk their practice and livelihood. Sad but true. On the flip side, by recommending the medications, there is zero liability.

Let's also look at fact that just going to the doctor can be nerve-racking for many. So much so that for some patients it causes a rise in blood pressure that gives the appearance of hypertension.

Look at some of the facts. Currently, there are approximately 68 million people in the U.S. who are diagnosed with either high blood pressure or mild - stage 1 hypertension. The latest review conducted by the Cochrane Collaboration, which provides independent analyses of medical data, suggests that many patients with stage 1 hypertension are over-treated and subjected to the possible harms of drug treatment without any benefit. Also, according to, “A very recent study is now turning 30 years of medical dogma along with the associated drugging on its head. The latest independent experts now report that blood pressure drugs used to treat mild cases of high blood pressure not only do not reduce heart attacks, strokes, or overall deaths, but that they come with a litany of nasty "side effects" from loss of libido to sudden pain, urinary infections, asthma symptoms, insomnia, depression, coughing, rashes, dizziness, drowsiness, constipation, diarrhea and on and on. One of the "side effects" of these unnecessary medications is death.  

So if you really want to know what your blood pressure is, pick up an electronic blood pressure monitor and take this at home when you know you are relaxed. Don't forget to follow the instructions of relaxing for 2 minutes between the time you put on the cuff and you actually complete your reading. This is a great time to do some deep belly breathing.

Here's some info from Mayo Clinic on blood pressure readings.

Top number (systolic) in mm Hg   Bottom number (diastolic) in mm Hg Your category* What to do**
Below 120 and Below 80 Normal blood pressure Maintain or adopt a healthy lifestyle.
120-139 or 80-89 Prehypertension Maintain or adopt a healthy lifestyle.
140-159 or 90-99 Stage 1 hypertension Maintain or adopt a healthy lifestyle. If blood pressure goal isn't reached in about six months, talk to your doctor about taking one or more medications.
160 or more or 100 or more Stage 2 hypertension Maintain or adopt a healthy lifestyle. Talk to your doctor about taking more than one medication.

If you do find yourself in a less than optimal blood pressure it is imperative to take care of your overall health and wellness. Visit the Depke Wellness homepage for a complimentary video on your fundamentals of health as well as free assessments for your Nutritional ID, gluten intolerance and adrenal insufficiency. These all play a role in blood pressure.

If you also want to monitor your pulse along with blood pressure, the electronic blood pressure monitors will generally do this for you but if not, follow these directions. A normal resting heart rate for adults ranges from 60 to 100 beats a minute. Generally, a lower heart rate at rest implies more efficient heart function and better cardiovascular fitness. For example, a well-trained athlete might have a normal resting heart rate closer to 40 beats a minute. To measure your heart rate, simply check your pulse. Place your index and third fingers on your neck to the side of your windpipe. To check your pulse at your wrist, place two fingers between the bone and the tendon over your radial artery — which is located on the thumb side of your wrist. When you feel your pulse, count the number of beats in 60 seconds and that is your heart rate. Here's some info on your pulse.

Resting heart rate
Age or fitness level Beats per minute (bpm)
Babies to age 1:
Children ages 1 to 10:
Children ages 11 to 17:
Well-conditioned athletes:

So in the end, make your your blood pressure readings are not skewed. You don't want to spend your life on meds because you were stressed out and had a cup of coffee, do you?

If hypertension is an issue for you and you would like to address these and other underlying factors naturally, feel free to set up a complimentary 20 minute visit with Depke Wellness by calling (949)954-6226.



1 comment:

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