Which Blood Pressure Reading Should I Go By?

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Which blood pressure reading should one go by, the reading taken when your arm is rested on a table at level with your heart, or when your arm is at your side? When I go to my doctor's office the nurses always take it with my arm at my side, and that is usually the only reading they'll do. Occasionally my doctor will do a second reading with her stethoscope and the reading is always much lower. I've been cutting my 5mg Amplodipine pill in twos for the past week, and taking half doses just to see if my body can do some of the work on its own. I guess it's failing. Taking full doses I was averaging a stable 110ish/72-77 or sometimes lower like 98/65. Now with half dose I seem to start in the morning with 110ish/72ish and go up to 118ish/77-89 by evening and stay there until I go to bed. Here's the thing though, these numbers are often taken with my arm at my side. If I rest it at heart level the readings can be significantly lower, and sometimes the same. What should I go by? I really want to be able to stay on a lesser dose and hopefully off completely one day. It was discovered at the beginning of Feburary that my blood pressure was elevated 135/92. Once I found out I obsessed! Then it began jumping all over the place spiking as high as 178/113 then crashing down. I became so nervous about it, in complete denial, checking it on my home monitor every 10 mins. Three days before my hbp was discovered I had been abusing saline laxatives for a few years, and decided to quite. Then a couple weeks prior to that I had stopped drinking green tea and starbuck's energy drinks. Everyone thinks my blood pressure got screwed up from the laxatives and energy drinks. At first my doctor said the same thing, but after giving me two weeks to bring my bp down there was no change so attributed it heredity and started me on pills. I guess I'm so freaked out that this really is genetic and I'm going to have to live with this, stay on meds forever. My mother and sister are both on bp pills. My grandmother had it too. The difference is they were overweight, I'm about 5'6" at 132lbs. but I did have awful lifestyle behaviors. I've been drinking lots of water and trying to eat healthier, but these pills give me such horrible constipation, and I'm already constipated extremely from stopping yrs of laxative abuse. My ankles are swelled, and I comb out a ton of hair from these meds. Does this sound like hbp from heredity or what I've done to myself? Will my bp ever return to normal? If so, how long would it take? I can think of nothing else but my bp right now, meanwhile I'm also trying to deal with the eating disorder thing. Far too much stress on me sad Sorry to keep posting.

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  • Posted

    Hi Me914,

    I have never heard of taking BP like that. My MD always has my arm on the table in a relaxed position.

    I believe mine is genetic too. Try not to obsess about it and take it so often because anxiety will make it go higher. Try to relax when you take it.

    My MD aims for 140/70. Unfortunately, if it is genetic you probably will be on meds. Diet and exercise are good. I read somewhere that cinnamon and vitamin B6 also can help. You can get cinnamon in capsule form.

    If you get side effects from it tell your MD. I went to MD today and told him I am stopping Amlodipine and Irebsartan cuz of the side effects. I am continuing Spironolactone and Diltiazem LA. These two don't seem to bother me. I told him we may never get it to where he wants it and have to settle for 150-156/70-75.

    I hope this helps you. Hang in there. Importantly, try to relax!

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    • Posted

      Thank you sharon34402. Yeah it's crazy how the nurses take blood pressure at my doc office. Oh well. Hopefully I will check my own bp correctly and get it straightened out once and for all. Thanks again smile
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  • Posted

    Hi ME,

    I have never had my BP taken with my arm at my side. In theory your arm should be level with your heart. Text book reading is 120/80, if you are getting reading of 135/90 that is not so terrible. Your anxiety about your BP will only cause it to go higher. I have been on BP meds for about 20 years, recently I have had to change them as the Beta Blockers were making my asthma much worse. I tried Amlodipine but my ankes and legs were swollen so I stopped taking those. The GP put me on Lisinopril and I had the ACE cough which drove me round the bend night and day. I am now on Losarton, with no side effects. My BP averages 130/88 in the morning (It is always higher in the morning) to about 128/85 in the afternoon. I also take grapeseed extract, which I swear by. They keep the BP down and are very good for the liver and kidneys. They are an amazing antioxident. I take 200mg a day. Tried and tested for years in USA. When I stopped the Lisinopril because of the cough I just used the the grapeseed and that controlled by BP for the 6 weeks I was not taking anything. Do try not to stress over the BP. Just take it once a day, a different time each day. Your BP fluctuates during the day and night, so don't be surprised if it is up one time and down another. Try some relaxation therapy too, there are plenty of good books and info on the internet for relaxation therapies. i would certainly stay off the energy drinks and laxatives. Green tea is fine, it is really god for you. Do try the grapeseed though, it really does work.

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    • Posted

      Nannylynn...text book reading may be 120/80, but age is an important factor. Here in Canada, for a person 65+, it's quite acceptable for readings to be 140/90. 

      I totally agree with what you said regarding the anxiety which can drive up the bp numbers, AND bp fluctuates all the time. One minute it can be down, then up the next. I too have never had my bp taken with my arm at my side. Please read my post, & you'll see how mine has been taken. Some of it totally goes against the instructions from the Hypertension Society. Also what I forgot to mention was that the way I take my readings is as per the Mayo Clinic. You can't get a better recommendation than that!!!! smile

       

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    • Posted

      Thank you nannylynn. I just picked up some grape seed today. I'm going to see what it does. The meds are just awful. I hope to God I can get off them, or if I have to continue taking them find one that won't give awful side effects. Again thank you so much for the info smile
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  • Posted

    Hi Me914..first of all...I'd like to try to discourage you from adjusting your bp medication without the supervision of your doctor. Never ever do this!. Also, your friends could very well be right when they suggest the energy drinks you've been consuming could be contributing to the bp...or the readings. It's a known fact that caffeine increases bp as well as heartbeat. Cut down on those amounts.

    I've experienced variances as to how my bp readings have been taken. The nurse at the Dr office will take the readings from my right arm, with my arm pulled out & up. The doctor himself has taken my readings that way too.& regardless of who takes the readings, I usually get just ONE reading. I've always been taught, that the cuff of the bp monitor should be applied snugly. This doesn't happen at the Dr. office. Also, the cuff should never be applied over clothing. I had my bp reading taken as recently as last Saturday at the hospital, & the nurse put the cuff over top of my sweater sleeve ..on the right arm.All of what I've told you goes totally against what the Hypertension Society recommends. Even my Nephrologist's office has pictures of how to take the readings CORRECTLY. Sit on a chair with your feet flat on the floor.Do not cross your legs. Apply the cuff to your left arm, approx. 1/2" above the bend in your arm. Be sure the cord runs down the centre of your arm, not off to the side. The cuff should be snug enough so that you can only fit 2 fingers in the top of the cuff. (This also is stated by the Mayo Clinic). Have the cuff on your arm so it is level with your heart. You may have to adjust your seating to accomplish this. Rest your arm on the table top or whatever (again ensuring the cuff is level with your heart). Turn your arm so that your hand is palm UP. Relax for a few minutes, then take your readings. Don't get into the habit of taking your bp readings too often, especially if you see the reading is rather high..so you take it again, & again, & again. This causes anxiety, & anxiety drives the numbers up. Don't make yourself nutty over it. If the reading is a little high...record it...walk away...then next day or whatever take your reading again. If over a few days the reading is still rather high, contact the doctor. I don't recommend people use the bp machines at pharmacies. You never know when they were last calibrated for accuracy, & also everyone has a different sized arm.

    I hope I have been of some help to you. Cheers!!

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    • Posted

      Thanks again mike92384. I believe you responded to my first nervous rant. I don't have anyone else to talk to while I'm going through this so, thank you again for listening smile
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    • Posted

      Please don't put up with awful side effects, go back to your GP. I went back 3 times before I found medication that suited me. I am on lowest dose Lasarton 12mg. It is used to treat high BP and also to prevent strokes.

      I still take the 200mg of grapeseed, I find that keep BP to really good level.

      Let me know how you get on.

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    • Posted

      Hi nannylynn,

      Thanks for the info. I went back on Monday and we agreed to keep me on the Diltiazem and Spironolactone, which I was already on aND had no sidea effects from. I told him that's it!

      I also told him we may never get it below 150/70. Everyone in my family has high BP and so I believe it is genetic.

      I agree high BP is hard on the kidneys but so are the drugs plus being hard on the liver.

      Going out today to get some grapeseed.

      Keep in touch.

      Thanks again.

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  • Posted

    I too have only recently been diagnosed with high BP, after a week on amlodipine it is at best around 160/80. I take my BP 3 times a day. Its always higher in the morning than at night. Its always high if i do it after taking a nap.

    I realise that i am fearful of the results each time i take my BP and this makes the reading higher, so i take it 3 times when the reading is higher than expected, I think beautiful thoughts, distract myself by reading, and hey presto its 20 points lower.

    The way my GP takes the reading is with the arm slightly raise to heart level and this is what i do.

    I have a dog who takes me for a brisk walk at least twice a day and am careful about what i eat...fresh food, ..no junk and nothing ready cooked.

    I think my BP has been raised because my heart was broken by grief at the loss of my husband two and a half years ago, but there could also be genetic factors.

    Dont put everything down to genetics, look for the hidden, emotional stressors, the harmful things we do to ourselves when things go wrong in our lives. These we can  change.

    I am taking hawthorn extract and hibiscus tea and have stopped drinking caffeinated coffee. I am actively clearing out all the physical and emotional 'stuff'. And until the BP falls, or the side effects kick in and reduce my quality of life, i am taking amlodipine.

     

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    • Posted

      Hi Gill,

      Try to take it only once a day; otherwise, you stress yourself out and anticipate it will be high.

      Sorry for your loss. I lost my husband 33 years ago this Easter and I still miss him. We would have been married 20 years when I lost him. I know how difficult it can be.

      Take care and I hope and pray your BP gets better! Try to think positive.

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    • Posted

      Hi gill72653...I agree with sharon 34402...Taking your bp too often can cause anxiety. Anxiety=higher bp numbers. You've been on the Amlodipine for just 1 week. That's far too early to ascertain if the medication will lower your bp. Give it another 3 weeks, & if you don't see a noticeable improvement, go back to your doctor. 

      Before taking your bp readings, sit in a chair, with your feet flat on the floor, your back against the chair. Prior to doing that, put the cuff on your arm. I'm sure you know how to do this properly. Rest for about 5 min. then push the button on your bp monitor. Don't look at it while it's taking the reading..THAT can cause anxiety too. My Nephrologist said to take 3 readings...throw the 1st one away, then average the next two. Some bp monitors will take 3 consecutive readings, then give you the average. That's fine too. 

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    • Posted

      Hi Gil,

      All good advice, only take BP once each day. Use a good quality BP monitor, Omron MIT Elite is a good quality machine. Most people's BP is higher in the mornings. My GP takes my BP three times and uses the lowest reading as by then I have relaxed. Stress is certainly a huge factor in high BP. I recommend grapeseed extract to everyone, it will take your BP down by up to 10 points. It has been tried and tested in USA. It is a good antioxident and has no side effects. It certainly works for me and my husband. The walking and sensible eating is great and should help. I am sorry to hear of your sad loss, 21/2 years is still not very long and it must feel very raw.

      If you start to get side effects from the Amlodipine (swollen legs/feet) please go back to your GP, these are quite common side effects. I had swollen legs and feet after 2 weeks and my GP changed the meds.

      Hope all goes well with you.

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    • Posted

      You said you have a dog that takes you on walks hehe smile So cute. I'm sorry to hear about your husband sad. I'm going through a lot of emotional stuff and anxiety as well, so yes that's probably a major contributor.
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