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Why is my blood pressure still high?

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Old 07-27-2012, 12:02 AM   #1
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Default Why is my blood pressure still high?

When I started exercising and eating healthy, I checked my blood pressure and it was high. The main reason I made the lifestyle change was for my health. I didn't want to end up with hypertension and diabetes and all that stuff. So anyway, every time I have checked my blood pressure since I started this change, it has still been elevated. Tonight, on the first go, it was 144/94. Second time it was 134/93. Third is was 128/92. This is the same range it was in before. Shouldn't there be an improvement? I exercise (walking or bicycle) for 30-45 minutes at least 3 days a week, typically 5 days a week. I eat 1600 calories a day, low fat, low sodium. I have changed my diet drastically. My sodium intake before was outrageous and I didn't even know it. I previously did feel some symptoms are hypertension, like headache daily. Now I don't feel any symptoms. I feel good. I feel better than I have in a long time.
I go to the doctor on Monday for a general checkup. I haven't been in years, so I've been worried about my blood pressure and blood sugar. I'm kind of disappointed and confused about my blood pressure.

I guess another important question is: How accurate are the blood pressure machines in stores (Wal-Mart, Walgreens)? I have to assume that even if they were off, there should at least be a change since my lifestyle has changed dramatically over the last 3 months.

On another note, my heart rate has come down. It previously was consistently 112-116. Now it is 94-96.
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Old 07-27-2012, 12:39 AM   #2
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What kind of blood pressure are you hoping to see? Sure looks like improvements to me (from what I understand, the top number is usually the more important number and the one that is more easy to influence).

Since you see your doctor on Monday, give him the numbers you wrote here (you may want to write them down and the approximate dates, if you can remember them) and ask him about both the top and the bottom numbers, and what they mean - and what kind of changes you can see from diet, exercise, and weight loss.

My own doctor was THRILLED when I got my systolic blood pressure (the top number) from the high 140's into the 120' s (it took a lot longer for the diastolic (bottom) numbers to come down.

If I remember what the doctor told me correctly, it's the top number that's the biggest concern, and it sure looks like that's coming down.

If you've always had the top number RANGE from say 125 to 145 - your range may still be the same, but your AVERAGE could be coming down. Unless you took your blood pressure every day, you might not notice that the average pressure is much lower, you'ld just notice that the range is the same.

Also how long have you been at the new lifestyle. It took MONTHS before my blood pressure started coming down.

And also, you may have a hereditary form of high blood pressure and you may have to take medication regardless of your weight. Skinny people can get high blood pressure too.

And sodium isn't always to blame. For example, even though I have high blood pressure, sodium levels do not affect my blood pressure. In fact, I tend to have "too low" sodium levels more often than not, and when they drop too low, my doctor will suggest I up my salt intake for a couple days (and it's usually normal by the next doctor visit).

There've been some blood pressure research that has found that sodium doesn't increase blood pressure for everyone with high blood pressure. You can assume it's not great for you, but cutting sodium doesn't necessarily reduce blood pressure in everyone with high blood pressure.
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Old 07-27-2012, 09:34 AM   #3
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I think it's actually the other way around. While both the top and bottom numbers are important, the bottom number is the most stable of the two, and the one to pay attention to. The top number could go up and down based on stress, activity, etc. Even the sight of a doctor could make that top number shoot up (white coat syndrome). I'm only digging in to my memory of my anatomy and physiology class from years ago, and I'm by far not an expert.

You don't mention things like your age, how much you weigh and how much you've lost, all things that will affect your bp (EDIT: Never mind, just saw your ticker). Older people (like senior citizen age) will see higher bps, and those medical experts don't get real excited about it. At least that's what I observe in my line of work.

IMHO, your systolic number, the top number, isn't too terrible. It's up there closer to that hypertension range, but it's not terrible and it's within that normal range.

Of course your diastolic, the lower number could stand to come down some more, but it looks like it's already improving, though. You're already making some great changes that ought to keep it coming down. If it doesn't, then you might have to consider medications for that.

Those pharmacy cuffs are probably trustworthy enough to get a ball park idea of your bp, but I'd bank on what's in your doctor's office first. They calibrate their machines regularly, and the equipment is likely better quality. I think a person's size can probably influence bp readings from certain cuffs, like the one size fits all cuff at CVS. This is just my opinion, based on my experience and probably not even true, but I find that if I use a normal adult cuff on a really small adult (instead of the child cuff) I'll get a weird bp reading. So I have to think that if a small or large person sticks their arms in a pharmacy cuff, maybe it's not as accurate.

You can even get different readings from different arms too. If I get a really weird blood pressure reading, I'll take it again from another arm, and record the better of the two. I'll even get weird bp readings if the cuff isn't positioned correctly on the arm. There's lots of things that can change a bp from day to day or hour to hour. If I get a weird reading from each arm, I'll retake it later in the day and see if it's changed at all.

Just keep doing what you're doing and it's sure to come down. You've only done this for 3 months, and it may just take longer to see bigger results!
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Last edited by twinieten : 07-27-2012 at 09:39 AM.
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Old 07-27-2012, 10:22 AM   #4
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Default re:

Make sure you talk to your doctor about your concerns. Also, are you on any medication? Some medications can have a blood pressure side effect. Some people also can just flat out have high blood pressure, regardless how fit they are, especially if it runs in the family.
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Old 07-27-2012, 10:27 AM   #5
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I think it took me 50 pounds to see a significant change in my blood pressure. I've been lowering my meds gradually for the past 6 months but I still take 1/4 pill a day (down from 2 a day). And I exercise a lot and don't eat much sodium. So it's not all about your weight or activity level.

Be patient, and your improvements will continue!
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Old 07-27-2012, 10:42 AM   #6
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Do you have a home kit or are you using the drugstore machines exclusively?
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Old 07-27-2012, 10:51 AM   #7
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I go to the doctor on Monday for a general checkup. I haven't been in years, so I've been worried about my blood pressure and blood sugar. I'm kind of disappointed and confused about my blood pressure.


On another note, my heart rate has come down. It previously was consistently 112-116. Now it is 94-96.
]

Congrats on the heart rate reduction, that's good progress! Don't stress about the dr appt - make sure you mention the lifestyle change & loss of 20 lbs!
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Old 07-27-2012, 11:59 AM   #8
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Thanks for your replies! I was feeling pretty discouraged last night after checking my bp. I figured that it may just take more time and more weight loss before there is more of a significant change, though I was hoping to see myself out of the pre-hypertension/hypertension range. The last time I went to the OB/GYN was in October, and then my bp was 110/70. I did gain A LOT of weight over the winter though, so I think it put a lot of stress on my body and will just take time to undo.
Also, I'm 24, 5'7", and 272 lbs, as of this morning.
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Old 07-27-2012, 12:16 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yammy View Post
Also, I'm 24, 5'7", and 272 lbs, as of this morning.
Considering your stats I am surprised your BP is not higher.

Lose weight, supplement with omega 3s, keep exercising moderately 3 times a week and in a year this will be a non issue.

The key is to do it now while you're young.
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Old 07-27-2012, 01:10 PM   #10
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You're not alone - I am in the same situation. It runs in my family, so I think I'm genetically predisposed to have HBP. It sucks though...I really wanted to come off my medication.
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Old 07-27-2012, 01:13 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnP View Post
Considering your stats I am surprised your BP is not higher.

Lose weight, supplement with omega 3s, keep exercising moderately 3 times a week and in a year this will be a non issue.

The key is to do it now while you're young.
Agreed!! I had similar starting stats. It took a while at maintenance for all of my health problems to start going away. My BP is quite low, now. You'll get there, just keep at it! Do NOT give up.
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Old 07-27-2012, 03:42 PM   #12
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Your weight is definitely a factor and losing weight and a healthy diet will continue to improve it - but do be aware hypertension is hereditary, too. I know a gal who is 130 pounds, soaking wet, even after six kids, and consistently battles high blood pressure despite activity and a solid diet. I'd mention your concerns to your doctor, but I definitely see improvement there. If weight and activity doesn't take care of it completely, medication or supplementation may be a wise step as consistently high blood pressure isn't good.
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Old 07-27-2012, 04:18 PM   #13
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Regarding the accuracy of BP machine at Wal-Mart: A few years ago, I checked my blood pressure at Wal-Mart. It was very low for me, since I have had high bp and been on meds since my 20s when I was thin. I happened to mention this to the pharmacist, who was a friend of mine. She told me that it should be accurate because someone calibrated it every week. She pointed out that they could be held responsible if their BP machine was wrong and someone had health problems as a result.

Some minor research on my part demonstrated that walking around Wal-Mart or similar places has a calming effect on my BP. Relaxation techniques at home don't lower my BP a single mm...get me to the marketplace where I can do some hunting and gathering and I am much better!
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Old 07-27-2012, 08:12 PM   #14
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Quote:
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Your weight is definitely a factor and losing weight and a healthy diet will continue to improve it - but do be aware hypertension is hereditary, too. I know a gal who is 130 pounds, soaking wet, even after six kids, and consistently battles high blood pressure despite activity and a solid diet. I'd mention your concerns to your doctor, but I definitely see improvement there. If weight and activity doesn't take care of it completely, medication or supplementation may be a wise step as consistently high blood pressure isn't good.
When she weighs 130 lbs and still has high blood pressure than we'll know it is hereditary...

Throwing medication at the problem at this point in the game is in my opinion similar to a person who is clinically depressed just popping pills without trying to solve the underlying problem.
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Old 07-27-2012, 09:24 PM   #15
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That's what I said - if losing weight doesn't take care of it then supplements and/or medication should be considered. But I would say most hypertensive conditions, even when hereditary, are exacerbated by excess weight. So I would expect weight loss to clear up the number issues or help them immensely.
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