I recalled an annual health check offered by my employer and after a bit of searching, BINGO! I found notes from these health checks extending back several years:
- 'xx/xx/2006' 155/83
- 'xx/xx/2006' 136/85 (retest)
- '30/09/2010' 131/97
- '30/09/2010' 132/94 (retest)
- '27/07/2011' 140/82
- '09/09/2013' 122/75
More importantly, as recently as September last year my BP readings were normal (one caveat is that one-off readings are not truly indicative of BP any more than you could name a song from a single chord, but at least it is a start).
The question is what has happend in the 194 days between this reading on 9th September 2012 (122/75) and my first high reading on 22 March 2013 (179/110)? In retrospect there were definitely some intense periods at work - all lubricated for the past few months with lots of coffee (enough to perhaps disrupt sleep).
Doctors just look at a single reading (or a few readings in a single period), your age and then you get medicated by numbers. That is NOT how I roll. I understand high BP is dangerous if it is prolonged, but I am also interested in WHY we get high BP; the underlying cause, as high BP itself is simply a system of an underlying phenomena. I also want to resolve it!
The fact that I don't tick any of the 'normal' risk factors for hypertension, and that current tests show that I am in good health with very low viceral fat, and the fact that I can relax and get my blood pressure down (sometimes to as low as 126/73), suggests some underlying regulation is going awry. Calling it 'Essential Hypertension' labels it for the convenience of the medical community but offers little else.
A brief detour to 'Why We Get Sick' is always worthwhile,
- "University of Michigan physician Alan Weder and his colleague Nicholas Schork have tried to understand high blood presure as a disease of civilisation. Instead of emphasizing the high levels of salt in our diets, however, they note that blood pressure must be higher to supply the needs of larger bodies and that there is a mechanism that increases the pressure during adolescent growth spurts. In the ancestral environment, they argue, this mechanism would have made adjustments within a range of small body sizes. Today, our nutritionally rich environment yields fast growth and large body sizes that were rare in the past. The blood-pressure-regulating mechanism, pushed to adjust the system outside the range for which it was designed, often overshoots, causing high blood pressure." ('Why We Get Sick', Nesse & Williams, p154)
- A new study suggests for the first time that cytomegalovirus (CMV), a common viral infection affecting between 60 percent and 99 percent of adults worldwide, is a cause of high blood pressure, a leading risk factor for heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease.
The blood pressure numbers are falling...