In my most recent visit to the endocrinologist, it was revealed that my blood pressure was quite high. This came as a quite a surprise, since although it tends to be a tad higher than normal, it’s never really been quite as high as it was during this appointment. Although some have suggested that I may be suffering from “white coat syndrome,” where a patient’s stress levels and anxiety are directly affected by the presence of a doctor, I don’t believe this is accurate since I not only enjoy being told how good I am at controlling Diabetes but my visits to the endocrinologist have always been very pleasant and stress-free. So I’m not particularly prescribed to that suggestion.
To put things into context, a normal blood pressure reading for the average person is about 127/80 mmMg, depending on what source you cite or what medical professional you’re talking to. Certainly, the 120’s over the high 70’s to low 80’s seems o be the standard everywhere and has remained as such pretty much since the 1970’s. So let’s get into some of the basics; what the hell is blood pressure? Well, simply put, blood pressure is considered the pressure of the blood circulating in one’s arteries against the surface of one’s blood vessels. Medical professionals will generally use one’s blood pressure readings in combination with a number of other health measurements to assess overall health and diagnose certain conditions.
So what do the numbers mean? Well, according to an article posted by the Mayo Clinic, the top number is referred to systolic pressure, which measures the force one’s heart exerts every time it beats. The bottom number is diastolic pressure, which measures the pressure one’s blood exerts on the walls of the blood vessels between beats. Knowing these definitions and recognizing the normal range as somewhere in the 120/80 range, my blood pressure that day was 164/86, putting me in what the same article classifies as Stage 2 Hypertension. A part of the issue that was identified was my apparent lack of a second preventative pill in the afternoon. The jury is still out if this is genuinely my mistake or my pharmacy’s, but it has since been corrected.
What I find entertaining is that since then, I’ve been taking measures pains to ensure I measure my blood pressure at home and at whatever pharmacy I casually happen to be walking by. For the most part, my readings have been normal. The joke is that I haven’t yet filled the prescription that was missing but my blood pressure is suspiciously back to normal? Maybe I DO have white-coat syndrome… My suggestion that perhaps their measurement device’s batteries were low was summarily ignored. But numbers from everywhere else don’t lie; my blood pressure is hovering in the normal range.
So why is all of this so important? Well, because on top of a pancreas that threw in the towel against its own body’s immune system decades ago, I have a plethora of secondary health issues to deal with that are directly affected by Diabetes. Good heart health is one of them. And high blood pressure can contribute to strokes, heart attacks, heart failure and can even play a role in kidney failure. Recognize some of those issues? You should… They all relate to someone with Type-1 Diabetes, which is why it’s so important to maintain a good control of one’s blood pressures. My body is fucked up enough, I don’t need to help the outlying issues along.
You would think that by virtue of what I’ve written above that low blood pressure would be okay but it really isn’t much better. Someone with increased and steady low blood pressure will usually suffer from dizzy spells, headaches, fainting and blurred vision, to name a few. I wasn’t able to find any sources that name what the long term effects of low blood pressure may be, but it isn’t a good thing. That being said, there are some folks who live normally with lower blood pressure and it’s generally the “normal” for them. As with all things health-related, every person is different, so you should visit your doctor if you think it’s an outlying concern.
All in all, it’s been one more thing for me to dutifully test and monitor frequently because, you know, I don’t have enough on my fucking plate! Thanks, Diabetes. But seriously, as stubborn as I can be and as much as I don’t like change, it takes a mere minute to test and document my blood pressure and ensure that I’m still hovering in the normal range. Keeping an eye on it can mean the difference between better health and better longevity or further health problems down the road. So, if you’re an adult and you happen to notice that blood pressure cuff in the grocery store or pharmacy, take a second, sit down and jam your arm in there. One minute now can save bigger problems later. Food for thought… ☯️