Blood Pressure

Happy Tuesday during the first week of the new year which doesn’t seem to have any lingering holiday madness.  It was quiet enough here for me to see if I could include an image successfully.  Hooray!  This wonderfully illustrative image is courtesy of National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health.

Blood pressure is such an issue with CKD patients that I’m including more information about it here. The diagram  demonstrates how too much blood flowing through a normal or narrow sized artery can cause high blood pressure, while the normal amount of blood flowing through a normal sized artery produces a normal blood pressure reading. You should know first that 31%, or almost one third, of adults over the age of 20 in the United States have HPB with an additional 25% in the pre-hypertensive range. Furthermore, as we age, it’s natural for our blood pressure to change.  The most up to date figures (August, 2010) show the following guidelines:

Normal blood pressure:  below 120/80
Pre hypertension [pre HBP]: 120/80 to 139/89
HBP:   140/90 to 159/99
Very HBP: 160/100 or above

You’ll notice the two numbers.  I’d always been curious about that but either too rushed or too lazy to research what it meant.  The first number, called the systolic, is the rate at which the heart contracts, while the second or diastolic  is when the heart is at rest between contractions.  These numbers measure the units of millimeters of mercury to which your heart has raised the mercy.  Contrary to popular belief, headache is not always a sign of HBP just as weakness or dizziness when you stand up is not always a sign of low blood pressure low blood pressure.  In order to make your HBP medication effective, high cholesterol, obesity and smoking have to be treated simultaneously.

Before you become upset at your own blood pressure reading, you should know that your blood pressure is higher in the morning and early evening, is different between arms and may register differently if you use different equipment or use the same equipment in a different manner.  It can also be affected by the percentage of water in your body and the width of your arteries.  Narrower arteries can raise your blood pressure (take another look at the diagram).  Then there are the minor changes such as white coat syndrome.  That’s when you become fearful or stressed about what the reading will be in the doctor’s office which raises the reading a little bit.

A sphygmomanometer measures the pressure of the blood on the artery wall.   Humans have 10 pints of blood that are pumped by the heart through the arteries to all the other parts of the body.  This  oxygen rich blood combines with whatever was eaten to provide energy.  Our veins move the oxygen depleted blood back to the heart and then the lungs for more of the oxygen you took in by breathing.  This is a constant process.  If blood pressure is taken against the artery walls, then it’s oxygen rich blood that is being measured.

I can’t quite figure out if this is good news or bad, but it seems CKD sufferers are more likely to die from the disease’s complications rather than the disease itself.  You can see this from the list of the most frequent causes of death in people with CKD: infection, stroke, non-compliance with your treatment plan, cancer or (the ubiquitous) unknown. We’re getting far, far ahead of ourselves since this blog is written for those in the early stages of the disease, but I felt it important for you to know that you can prolong your life by making sure you take care of yourself. S, go exercise!

Until Friday,

keep loving your life.

Published in: on January 11, 2011 at 11:07 am  Leave a Comment  

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