Hypertension grey area

Posted , 7 users are following.

I am a reasonably fit 30 year old male. I am 5'9", vegetarian, 19% body fat, 160lbs. My work is sedentary but otherwise, I am very active (Workout, running, playing a sport all the nice stuff).

Unfortunately, life had something else planned for me and at 30, I am facing a flurry of issues that doctors are not able to explain except attribute it to "genetics". One of the many issues is my blood pressure. I consistently read over 120/80 (clearly pre-hypertensive) but I don't know if I am hypertensive yet. I take weekly readings first thing in the morning and I always read anywhere between 125-130/80-85 (more common) to 135-150/85-90 (less common). I have tried every thing (low sodium, low fat, high fibre, low saturated fats) but nothing has worked yet. 

1. What is the right way to know if I am hypertensive? How many readings and at what times of the day should I take to conclude if I am hypertensive? Is it just one reading over 140/80 or consistently over 140/80?

2. What is the right procedure to measure blood pressure? How many readings should I take each time I sit down?

2. I have noticed sometimes that subsequent readings with 1-2 minutes break results in more than 10 points difference in systolic (most of the times on the lower side). For example, todays readings were 139/86 and 127/82. Is this common? What causes such big variance?

4. How often do you calibrate and replace home blood pressure meters? When I am visiting the doctor, my reading is never below 140/80. Ofcourse they just take one reading. Does this mean my home meter is bad?

Appreciate your help.

0 likes, 11 replies

11 Replies

  • Posted

    Correction: I am vegetarian for most part but I do often indulge in fish and sushi. I don't eat any red meat and very rarely any chicken

  • Posted

    A good set of questions, several of which I have also wondered about! I think you need to measure 140/80 consistently, certainly one reading over 140/80 is not enough. I take my BP with the cuff around my upper right arm and take 5 or 6 readings spaced about 3 or 4 minutes apart, although 1 or 2 minutes apart would probably be what most people do. I either sit at a chair or lie down on a couch, but lying down often produces lower readings for me.

    I find the same thing as you, the first readings are usually higher than the last readings, sometimes considerably higher. My theory as to what causes such a big variance is that, the longer I relax, the lower my pulse goes and in my case this also results in a lower BP reading. Some people say you should disregard your first 1 or 2 readings because they will be higher due to your moving around etc prior to you taking your readings. I think there is merit in this approach because if I take my BP after heavy activity it's always much higher than it is after completely relaxing for several minutes. Although it's interesting to know your BP after heavy activity, I think most doctors prefer the readings taken after your pulse has had time to slow down. It's also common practice to average say, the last 3 readings you have taken.

    When I visit my doctor he takes at least 3 or 4 readings, one of which is after I have had time to relax. So, I wouldn't think there's anything wrong with your home machine, but get your doctor to check it out and compare it with his machine.



  • Posted

    I take my blood pressure monitor to the doctor's office with me and have the nurse take my blood pressure with my monitor after or before she takes the BP for the doctor with their machine.  Mine only varies up to 4 points each time, so I know I have a reasonably accurate home BP monitor.

    • Posted

      I should do this too to make sure my machine is calibrated with theirs.
  • Posted

    hi Alex 

    A word of advice,You are in danger of becoming fixated about your blood pressure I know because i started going down the same path.Try to give yourself a break from taking readings. From your description i dont think you have any thing to worry about your b/p is going up and down all day if you take a reading after eating or drinking it will be slightly up and apparently b/p is higher in the winter?biggrin

  • Posted

    Hi alex16733...I fully understand your frustrations. Firs tof all, you say that you are consistently over 120/80. You'd be surprised at how many people believe that number is the 'golden' rule. It is NOT. Your readings of 125/80 or 130/85 aren't all that bad, but there are things doctors take into consideration. Keep doing the low sodium, low fat, high fibre etc.etc...& exercise when  you can. This all adds up. 

    There is no real right way to tell if you are hypertensive other than consistent readings that are high, & confirmation from your doctor. 

    Now about taking the readings. Blood pressure fluxuates. What you describe being 139 one minute then 127 two minutes later is nothing. Throw the concern away when it comes to that. Here's how I've been trained to take bp readings:

    Sit in a comfortable chair...feet flat on the floot. Apply the cuff to your left arm, about 1-1 1/2" above the bend in the elbow with the cord running straight down the centre of your arm so that it sits at your middle finger. Palm UP. Be sure the cuff is on yoru arm at heart level. Sit & relax a few minutes. Take 3 readings...each 1 min. apart. Then average those three. That's your reading...OR you can record all 3 readings & keep them to show your doctor. My machine can be set to take individual readings or the "Tru Read" which takes 3 consecutively,

    the presents the average along with the pulse rate. I can also view the individual readings. If you are not feeling well, anxious, or in pain, don't take readings. They likely will not be accurate. Also, if you get high readings, don't keep taking the measurements. The anxiety will spike the bp. Let it go.."tomorrow's another day".

    Try to take your readings at the same time of the day. Do not take readings within 30 min. of showering/bathing, drinking coffee/tea, eating or drinking alcohol. 

    My readings at the Dr. is 140/80, but I'm an older guy, & have a long drive to see him. I always take readings for him to see. What you might want to do is to take your machine to the Dr. with you to compare readings...but bear in mind, if you're even a ittle anxious, the readings may be 'off'. Yes, my Dr. takes just the one reading too. In my mind that's hardly a way to accurately know a person's bp.

    Please let me know how you get on with this. 

    • Posted

      This is super helpful. I will start taking measurements with this new approach and see how it changes my readings.
    • Posted

      The American Heart Association (AHA) has published some authoritative guidelines titled “Monitoring Your Blood Pressure at Home”. If you type the above in Google you will find the link I am referring to.

      These guidelines tell you to be still and not to smoke, exercise, drink caffeinated beverages or alcohol within 30 minutes of measurement. There are also sections about “sitting correctly”, “measuring at the same time every day”, and “taking multiple readings and recording the results”.

      There is also a chart titled “Blood Pressure Measurement Instructions” which says that every time you measure take 3 readings, separated by at least 1 minute and record all the results. These instructions suggest that you should try to take readings in the early morning and evening.

      Because of the varying advice that I have received about measuring BP, I think an authoritative guide as referred to above is also very helpful.



  • Posted

    My consultant advised a similar routine of taking blood pressure to Mike's advice above, with one slight difference, which is to take 3 readings each a couple of minutes apart, but then only record the average of the last two readings.  Otherwise it sounds as though you are following all the healthy options, and I don't think those readings of yours are anything to be unduly concerned about.  Just monitor from time to time but not too frequently or it will become an obsession and very likely cause an increase the figures!

  • Posted

    Alex, having read your post, I have come to the conclusion you are neither hypertensive nor pre-hypertensive. Your numbers are quite normal for a large proportion of the population. I think you are worrring about nothing.
  • Posted

    Also, I have always been told the magic number is 140/90, not 140/80. 

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