I had an appointment with my family doctor because I went to renew a prescription last week only to discover that I had no more repeats on it. They were nice enough to squeeze me in so I could get another six months' worth of a prescription that I will be taking for the rest of my life (sigh).
While I was there, they checked my blood pressure.
It was 127/72.
They said nothing other than to speak the numbers out loud.
I left, prescription in hand, and headed down the road to my dentist for my 6-month cleaning and check up.
When I got there, they tested my blood pressure.
It was 119/80.
"That's pretty much perfect isn't it?" I asked. "120/80 is the magic number right?"
"No", replied my dental hygienist. "120/80 is the highest you want it to be. So you're just on the edge of too high." "Your heart rate is really low though. It's only 55 beats per minute" she said. And then she proceeded to scrub my teeth within an inch of their life for 45 minutes...which gave me 45 minutes to think.
I realize that blood pressure fluctuates for all sorts of reasons. Stress, movement, time of day, the way they did the blood pressure reading etc.
So I'm not particularly bothered by the difference in my readings.
What I am bothered by is the fact that my family doctor didn't bat an eye at 127/72 (and she is the type to prescribe medication even before it's needed) and my dental hygienist's comment seemed to indicate that I was teetering on the edge of problematic blood pressure.
After CoreFit and a late dinner I went online to do a bit of research. Here is what I learned.
The top number indicates the systolic blood pressure which is the pressure in the arteries when the heart is pumping. The bottom number is the diastolic pressure which is the pressure in the arteries in between heart beats. With me so far?
According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, low risk blood pressure is a top number below 120 and a bottom number below 80. (uh oh)
Medium risk is a systolic blood pressure of 121-139 or a diastolic blood pressure of 80-89.
High risk is 140+/90. Unless of course you have diabetes and then it's 130/80.
I looked up what the Heart and Stroke Foundation recommends for lowering blood pressure.
- Eat a low sodium diet (stay under 2,300mg/day) - I don't get anywhere near that number most days. I typically hover around 1,500mg.
- Eat a diet low in saturated fat - again, no problem there.
- Exercise 150 minutes per week - I do several times that most weeks.
- Don't drink more than two alcoholic drinks per day - I hardly drink two per week
- Don't smoke - you couldn't pay me enough to pick up a cigarette
- Keep stress to a minimum - I have a pretty stress-free life most of the time and work hard to keep it that way.
Well, I have six more weeks until my next appointment at the Diabetes Centre. They're really good at answering my questions so I'm sure they'll give me a good sense of a) what my readings mean and b) if I need to do anything about them.
In the meantime, I'll keep on doing all the things I do to stay healthy and I may just pop into the local pharmacy for random blood pressure checks. For research purposes.