(Why) Do I Need a Blood Pressure Monitor?

blood pressure monitorIf you know you have high blood pressure, or even think you might have, then getting your own blood pressure monitor can be useful for several reasons.

If you’ve been diagnosed with high blood pressure at the doctor’s office then you should be concerned but don’t jump to the conclusion that you have life threatening hypertension. Having a high blood pressure reading on one occasion does not mean you suffer from high levels all the time.

 

White Coat Syndrome

Having extraordinarily high blood pressure readings at a doctor’s office is quite common. So common they even have a name for it – “White Coat Syndrome”. Simply being in the doctor’s office can raise our blood pressure above our normal range.

The funny thing is that White Coat Syndrome can affect you even if you don’t consciously feel tense at the doctor’s. I always felt calm at the doctor’s but blood pressure readings would routinely be some 20 points higher there than at home. (You can read more about my experiences here: Blood pressure readings – separating fact from fiction.)

 

Benefits of having your own blood pressure monitor

The only way to get a true picture of your blood pressure condition is to get your own monitor and take readings from time to time. There are a number of benefits of getting your own monitor.

First, you’ll get to know what your blood pressure is outside of the doctor’s office. That’s the blood pressure that counts. If it’s still way to high you need to start treating it.

Secondly, having your own blood pressure monitor allows you to tell what is working for you to bring your blood pressure down. It allows you to experiment, choose the best methods, and stick with it till your blood pressure is where you want it.

Perhaps most importantly, having your own blood pressure puts you back in the driver’s seat. This is where you want to be if your are serious about getting your blood pressure down and restore your health.

For a wide selection check out:

amazon.co.uk/blood-pressure-monitors for the UK,

amazon.com/blood-pressure-monitors for the USA

By the way, Emma, who works in a pharmacy and seems to be ‘in the know’, says “don’t buy a wrist monitor – they’re not that accurate”. (The American Heart Assocation backs this up.)

 

How to use your blood pressure monitor

For tips on how to take the most accurate readings, see this article by the American Heart Foundation: Monitoring your blood pressure at home

Basically, sit straight and comfortably, don’t cross your legs, have your arm supported on a table or something so that your upper arm is at the level of your heart. Make sure the cuff is placed round your arm correctly (see your monitor’s instructions). Take a few readings a few minutes apart and take an average.

If you want to get a good idea of your general blood pressure, then do readings at the same times each day. However, if you’re wanting to see if your blood pressure is reacting to certain activities or foods or drinks, then you can take a reading shortly after doing/having those things.

Getting your own blood pressure is a vital first step getting a handle on your blood pressure! Take back control!

 

Lowering your blood pressure naturally

Now you’re armed (haha…) with your own blood pressure monitor, it’s time to start lowering your blood pressure. Think how much more enjoyable it will be to take those readings and watch the numbers go down.

It will take time though. The only quick way to lower your blood pressure is to force it down with blood pressure-lowering medications. These don’t actually treat whatever’s causing your high blood pressure though. So a more holistic and effective solution can be to reduce your blood pressure through ‘natural’ means. This doesn’t mean obscure herbal treatments (though there are some good ones), but just ordinary changes. Like adjusting some of the things you eat and drink. Being more active day-to-day. Making time to properly relax.

One of the best ways to relax is to breathe more slowly. Other than medications, breathing slowly is the quickest way to lower your blood pressure. You can test this with your blood pressure monitor. Do a reading beforehand. Then breathe slowly for a good fifteen minutes or so. Then take another reading.

I’ve created a set of guided slow breathing audio tracks (mp3s) which you can use to help you. (It can be hard to keep your breathing steady and slow without a bit of initial guidance.) You can listen to some samples here: Breathe-Slow samples

blood pressure monitors and lowering blood pressureI’ve also put together a guide to lowering your blood pressure naturally, step-by-step. It includes other relaxation techniques as well as lots on all the things you can eat and drink to lower your blood pressure. And tips on being more active in your daily life. Exercise is vital to healthy blood pressure, but it doesn’t have to involve going to the gym!

Click here for more details: Lower Your Blood Pressure Naturally – The Complete 9 Step Guide

By the way, the guide currently comes with the slow breathing audio tracks included. Everything you need to watch those numbers slowly but surely come down!

 

Normal Blood Pressure vs Ideal Blood Pressure

Anytime I browse the web for high blood pressure articles I come across a boat load of conformist scaremongering about so-called ideal blood pressure.

It’s as if a party line on high blood pressure had been handed out and everyone is preaching from the same sermon. The pharmaceutical bosses must be smiling themselves to sleep every night. Sales are good – and increasing.

Here’s an example I came across a few minutes ago from www.naturalproductssolution.com/devastating-effects-of-high-blood-pressure

Devastating Effects of High Blood Pressure

High Blood Pressure also called hypertension, is elevated pressure of the blood in the arteries. Blood pressure is the measurement of force applied to artery walls High blood pressure has to be taken seriously. It is a serious disease, the cause of which is more or less unknown. What we do know is that left untreated, high blood pressure over time can lead to serious heart disease and other vascular troubles, even death. Health professionals think that there are some genetic factors but as yet they cannot pin down the range of specific genes involved that cause high blood pressure. Studies suggest that people suffering from chronic high blood pressure may come from autonomic nervous system that controls heart rate, blood pressure and the blood vessels.

Detrimental effects of high blood pressure

It is the reason why high blood pressure has been called the “silent killer”. High blood pressure has detrimental effects on many organs like kidneys, eyes, and heart. High blood pressure is the primary cause of death in over 120,000 cases last year and contributes to 75% of all strokes and heart attacks and even more in African Americans. Research suggests that people with mild high blood pressure have three times more likely to have a heart attack as people with normal blood pressure and ten times the normal risk of stroke depending on the severity of the blood pressure. High blood pressure can also cause mental problems such as memory loss.

Fortunately, controlling blood pressure with the proper treatment can reduce or prevent those health complications. Healthy life style is a must for anyone with blood pressure 120/80mm Hg and above in order to prevent serious complications of that disease.

My response:

ideal blood pressure - does it exist?

image credit: conceiveeasy.com

High blood pressure is not a disease – it’s a condition brought on when a body gets out of balance.

High blood pressure doesn’t “kill people”. It’s not a ‘thing’ – it’s a measurement. Of course extremely high blood pressure is sign that your circulatory system is approaching collapse. So heed its warnings.

Is there really an ideal blood pressure?

120/80 is now the established ideal blood pressure rating – however it’s not a number that everyone can or should try to achieve (no more than everyone should try to force their feet into the ideal sized shoe.)

Anyone can reduce their blood pressure to a safe level (under about 140/105) through exercise and diet.

Forcing it down with medications (and possibly suffering undesirable side effects) is not very wise … especially considering that statistically more deaths occur from heart disease and stroke while people are on these medications than those who aren’t on them….!

Unfortunately the medical establishment as a whole has caught on and continues to push pills left, right and center.

The answer? Lower your blood pressure naturally. Get your body back in balance through diet and exercise. Get healthy again. If I can do it anyone can.

 

How to relax and lower your blood pressure

UPDATE (2016): My own route to lower blood pressure involved making some adjustments to my diet and I also started doing regular slow breathing exercises. (Physical exercise wasn’t so much an issue for me since I had an active lifestyle anyway.) Over a few months that brought my blood pressure levels down to what I felt to be a healthy level for me, though not always beneath the supposed ideal blood pressure 😉

High blood pressure can be due to a range of factors, slightly different for each of us, so there’s no ‘one size fits all’ solution to lowering your blood pressure naturally. However, there are a huge range of small things you can do which can add up to big changes in your health and blood pressure. Changing some of what you eat and drink makes a huge difference. As does being more physically active on a daily basis. Making time for relaxation and practising techniques to reduce stress is another enjoyable and important way to reduce blood pressure.

I’ve used and reviewed various products in my quest to lower my blood pressure (some are reviewed here: high blood pressure remedy reviews). But since the best ones are now unavailable, I decided to create my own guide to lowering blood pressure naturally.

Lower Your Blood Pressure Naturally – The Complete 9 Step Guide

hypertension treatments - naturallyAs the title imaginatively suggests, it’s arranged in an easy-to-follow format of nine steps which you can work through at whatever pace suits you.

Each step covers some aspect of diet, exercise or stress reduction. And each presents a range of simple things you can do to start lowering your blood pressure without taking prescription medications.

I should also emphasise that going down this road of getting your blood pressure back in shape does not involve terrible amounts of self-denial! There are lots of tasty foods and drinks which contribute to reducing your blood pressure (including alcohol and chocolate). And there are also a good number of pleasurable activities and relaxing techniques.

You can even do blood pressure-lowering exercises which don’t even require getting up from the sofa.

Just click here for more details: Lower Your Blood Pressure Naturally

Cheers, Simon

False blood pressure readings

Possibly the most misunderstood thing about BP is the readings. There’s a lot of mix up out there and … and the official medical establishment policy regarding hypertension isn’t helping.

Some years back the rule of thumb regarding BP was 100 plus your age for an acceptable systolic (higher number) reading. Now the standard approach is 120/80 for everyone whether they are 9 or 99.

Indeed, both methods are flawed.

The traditional ‘100 plus your age’ failed to take in account that a good lifestyle can keep away the effects of aging and help us live longer and healthier lives.

The newly established technique of 120 over 80 for all comes short in the other way.
Using the identical BP ruler to measure a 20 year old and a 75 year old is absurd.

Sure we can remain healthier and live longer through conscious choices – but that’s not the same as believing we can maintain the peak of a 20 year old’s strength, fitness, and BP for keeps.

Both methods fail to strike a balance – but good health is all about maintaining a balance.

Another downside with the 120 systolic 80 diastolic approach is that it fails to take into account the  dynamic nature of blood pressure. Your BP is constantly changing.

It’s not a specific number we should worry over but the ranges that our BP moves in.

BP will naturally go up when you exert yourself, , and so on. BP is usually the lowest at
the end of a relaxed evening . And this is the best time to take your blood pressure – at home, relaxed. Not at the doctor’s office or after half a dozen cups of coffee.

If your bp comes down to acceptable range (say under 135/ 90) then there’s no need to run to the local GP’s seeking a high blood pressure medications. It’s when your BP  refuses to come below to 155 over 90, ever, that you should contemplate blood pressure reducing solutions.

Why 135/90? That’s my acceptable range. You see I have a genetic inclination for high BP. My parents suffered fro high BP. So if I can keep my BP under 135 over 90 I’m pleased.

You’ll have to decide for yourself what’s acceptable for your own situation.

In case you’re interested, my actual BP reading sometimes go below the 120/80 standard. That’s a result of lifestyle  changes I’ve taken on. But I’m not going to ‘freak out’ if I get a
reading of, say 133 over 89 or thereabouts.

When dealing with personal health issues, establishing your own goals runs against the grain for for many people. It’s easier to just listen to ‘the establishment’ and do what they say.

The standard approach for reading high blood pressure (on a visit to your GP) could result is a false diagnoses of high blood pressure and as a consequence be put on medications –  when in fact your BP in a more relaxed situation is OK.

If you contemplate all the bad side effects linked with hypertension medications, bringing down your BP via a healthy lifestyle changes may not seem that crazy after all.

Also don’t forget that BP changes. Approach BP readings in terms of ranges, not fixed numbers.

Bottom line: get you own blood pressure monitor. For good deals see: get your own blood pressure monitor

Blood pressure readings – separating fact from fiction

After five months of stopping medications and starting on alternative natural remedies to reduce blood pressure I started to get blood pressure reading below the 120/80 ideal!

blood pressure readingsFor example, yesterday I came in from working on the roof of my house and decided just for interest to take a reading. I clocked in at 153/98 with a heart rate of 84. Had I lost all the ground I had been struggling to attain? Not at all. That night before bed I took a reading again and was back down to a respectable 128/87 with a heart rate of 68.

You see, blood pressure levels change – up, down, round-about, and back again – in the course a day depending on what your doing, thinking, or have eaten. This is why it can be a big mistake to conclude you a chronic sufferer of high blood pressure / hypertension from one reading or an occasional visit to the doctor’s office.

Add to this the fact that many people’s blood pressure level increases just stepping into a doctor’s office. It’s called white coat syndrome. I think I have it even though inwardly I feel reasonably calm at the doctor’s. But how else can I account that my highest blood pressure readings ever have been at the doctor’s?

How many people have been falsely diagnosed with one or two high blood pressure readings and put on medications for life when there was no need?

 

What to do if you think you have high blood pressure

What this means is that if you’re worried about your blood pressure levels:

  1. Get your own monitor and take readings at different times.
  2. Judge your blood pressure level according to ranges.

Remember, blood pressure readings are not as accurate tire pressure gauges. If you take two readings one after the other they will very rarely be the same (though they should be close). Don’t get too obsessed by exact numbers when it comes to blood pressure. Look for ranges.

Which is why the current blood pressure industry mantra of 120/80, 120/80, 120/80 … is just plain silly.

It has been speculated that it is largely driven by international pharmaceutical industries who have a large stake in the hypertension medications field. This is not just another conspiracy theory. Rather it is the outcome of a “confluence of interests”.

Look for a healthy range of blood pressure readings. Where you draw the line between ‘OK’ and ‘not OK’ readings is really up to you.

My own approach

A reasonable approach that works for me is this: When relaxed, blood pressure readings below 130/90 is good; readings below 140/105 is OK; readings over 140/105 is not OK – time for action.

Mind you I have discovered that high blood pressure ‘runs in the family’ for me which means I have to take extra diligence to keep me in a healthy range. Others, not genetically prone to higher blood pressure, may wish to lower their ‘OK’ ranges.

Blood pressure ranges are a bit like shoe sizes. It not natural that everyone has identical blood pressure readings – or should be medicated in an attempt achieve an ideal reading at all times.

Given the fact that undesirable side effects with many of these medications have been well documented, there’s every reason to look for alternatives if you suffer from high blood pressure.

That’s exactly the situation I found myself in back in April this year (2009). After two months of being prescribed an ACE inhibitor (Rampril) I had developed a persistant nagging cough that would wake me up often in the night. Meanwhile my blood pressure reading refused to budge from 190+ / 120+ readings.

After five months of following of exploring alternatives to medication I now enjoy blood pressure reading in an OK range – sometimes even below the ideal of 120/80.

 

Alternative blood pressure remedies

I’ve tried a number of alternative blood pressure cures offered on the internet but the ones I’ve used the most and come back to is Kevin Riley’s guidebook Get Natural! Drop Your Blood Pressure, and David O’Hara’s BreathEasy program of slow breathing exercises.

I have a 15 minute slow breathing session almost every night before bed and my blood pressure regularly drops to the 120/80 range and my heart rate below 70. (Slow breathing is actually the quickest way to lower your blood pressure without medications!)

Even though I have completed Kevin Riley’s program to lower blood pressure I often re-read parts. It’s a wealth of information and an enjoyable read (which is more than you can say for most ‘health guides’ on the Internet).

If you’re really serious about lowering your blood pressure without medication then you might want to consider what has worked for me so far:

  • Get your own blood pressure monitor
  • Take 15 minutes off a day to breathe slowly and reduce hypertension
  • learn about how to adjust your diet and daily routine to be healthier

 

UPDATE: How to lower your blood pressure naturally

Both BreathEasy and Get Natural! are now unavailable. However, to replace (and improve on) them, I’ve created my own slow breathing audio program as well as a guide on how to lower your blood pressure naturally.

Lower Your Blood Pressure Naturally – The Complete 9 Step Guide (with Slow Breathing Program included)

The guide contains simple and proven strategies for lowering your blood pressure and keeping it low through easy, effective and enjoyable changes in lifestyle.

It covers the large choice of affordable natural ingredients that lower blood pressure, many of which are available in local stores. It also looks at the best ways to exercise for lower blood pressure, with tips for being more active in your everyday life. Finally, it outlines handy techniques for stress reduction and relaxation.

lower your blood pressure naturallyTo keep it simple, the guide is arranged in a series of 9 easy-to-follow steps.

These progressive steps are based on the principle that positive incremental change is always best in health matters. And each chapter will take you further along the road of greater vigour and peace of mind (and a healthy blood pressure).

You also get a full set of guided slow breathing audio tracks (mp3s) to complement the guide.

Click here for more information and to get a free sample and start lowering your blood pressure naturally today – Lower Your Blood Pressure Naturally – The Complete 9 Step Guide

– – –

After 9 weeks of following Lower Your Blood Pressure Naturally and doing slow breathing exercises you should be feeling a lot better and your blood pressure readings should be down quite a lot.

That’s what’s worked for me.

Best wishes and let us know how you’re getting along with these or any other natural cures for high blood pressure.

Life, we’re all in it together.

What is normal blood pressure? (thinking outside the box)

The acceptable range of blood pressure is debatable. The new regime of defining everything over 120/80 as hypertension (or pre-hypertension) is more a “confluence of interests” than scientific fact.

The former “rule of thumb” for acceptable blood pressure levels went like this:

– systolic 100 + your age

In other words, it was accepted that blood pressure would rise as one aged.

The new regime is must simpler. It says that 120/80 and below is OK. Up to 140/90 is “pre-hypertension”. And anything over 140/90 is hypertension.

The 120/80 is now the one-size-fits all model. “Pre-hypertension” is regularly treated with prescription medication to prevent it from turning into “the dreaded silent killer” hypertension.

The new regime has resulted in a multi-billion dollar boom to the pharmaceutical industry dealing in blood pressure regulating medications leading some to question this shift to regulating blood pressure at lower levels.

Is it more motivated by profit than health?

Doctor are caught between a rock and a hard thing regardless of their own professional judgment. They are bombarded almost daily by sales literature from powerful pharmaceutical companies that can and do sway the prevailing opinions of accepted medical practice. Doctors leave themselves open to malpractice litigation if they don’t follow the newly established measurements and procedures.

But a blood pressure measurement of 120/80 is not necessarily ‘normal’ – rather it’s an ideal.

If your BP is consistently near to 120/80 range then pat yourself on the back. It doesn’t get much better. The other  95% of us in our 40s and above require a range a little more flexible to remain in reality and avoid becoming a lifelong medication junkie.

The upper ‘safe’ range has been suggested to be 140/100 and below.

If you are on or below this range, and over the age of 40, you don’t have life-threatening high blood pressure. Now is the time to think about lifestyle changes to ensure it doesn’t get too much higher.

In other words, it’s normal to have slightly higher blood pressure levels as one ages. Welcome to the human race.

What isn’t normal is to have desperately high blood pressure levels. If you’re measuring in at over 150/110 It’s time to act.

That doesn’t necessarily mean running to your doctor to get a prescription.

High  blood pressure is an indication that your body is out of balance. You can get your body back in balance through exercise and diet. See my Natural Cures Review for more information.

I brought my blood pressure from close to 200/120 down to 130/90 range in four months through diet and exercise. Six months on it is now usually below 130/90. And I’ve never felt better.

Mind you I only embarked on alternative remedies for high blood pressure after two months of medication (ACE inhibitor).  That medication was a total failure for me.  It gave me a persistent dry cough and didn’t bring my BP down at all.

Had I stayed with the medication route I’m sure the doctor would have found some combination of chemicals that forced my BP to lower levels but that’s hardly a cure. And it would have turned me into a lifelong pill popper.

So, three things to remember:

  1. If your BP reading are consistently under 140/100, relax, you’re OK.
  2. If your readings are consistently over 140/105 then it’s time to take action.
  3. There are better ways to reduce your blood pressure to acceptable levels than taking daily doses of blood pressure lowering drugs.

Best wishes,

Simon