So it’s been a week since crazy high blood pressure day, and I’m pleased to report that I’ve not seen anything like those terrible readings again. It’s still too high, hovering around 145/95, but seems to be gradually falling, most probably due to three main factors:
- No booze, almost (I’ve had 2 beers in the last 7 days)
- No coffee, almost (I’ve had 1 coffee in the last 7 days)
- Daily walking, almost (walked at least an hour for 5 out of last 7 days)
As doctors often say, this is not rocket science. Still, it’s surprisingly easy to be lax about one’s own health.
What the numbers mean
The two numbers are the upper and lower bounds of blood pressure in the arteries at the same level of the heart (ie same height above the ground). A typical machine measures these by inflating a cuff around the upper arm until all blood flow is completely stopped, then slowly releasing the cuff pressure until blood just begins to squeeze through. At this point the pressure in the cuff is recorded as the maximum (systolic). The cuff pressure is then allowed to continue dropping until the blood moves freely again through the artery (not in squirts), and it’s at this point that the minimum pressure (diastolic) is taken.
The units are mmHg, or mercury millimeters, which is a hangover from the old devices which used mercury in glass tubes to indicate pressure. 145 mmHg is the same as 2.8 psi, which doesn’t sound nearly as scary (being way less than standard tyre pressures of around 30 psi), although in theory at this pressure if I nicked an artery it would still be enough to spurt blood up to 6 feet into the air!