Sunday, March 8, 2009


Blood pressure while sleeping
Had wanted to take my blood pressure while sleeping as apparently this determines if high pressure is caused by sleep apnea (the pressure should drop 10% during the night. If it doesn't, sleep apnea is the suspected cause). Unfortunately my wife slept through the night and I forgot to measure during the 2 or 3 times I woke up to urinate (a sign of kidney malfunction, by the way).

I measured my pressure after getting up and putting bathing water on to boil (you know you're in the 21st century when your home has broadband Wifi Internet but no hot water). The first reading was 148/90. After two more readings, the average is 141/90. Still a good bit off the 130/80 target to avoid further kidney damage but better than it's been generally for the last few weeks. Perhaps the medicines are starting to work or perhaps the shock of discovering my mortality has forced my mind to relax my body.

In the shower I get annoyed, yet again, that it took me so long to discover my problem. Annoyed that I never knew about the dangers of high blood pressure... about not being able to breath properly through my nose... about protein in the urine... about looking after yourself generally. Who is supposed to tell you these things? Your parents? Or does the (Irish) government assume that everyone has a friendly family doctor to look after them? If the state invested so much in teaching me diferential calculus (something I have yet to find a use for in my own life), would it not have made sense to have invested in a single visit of a health care professional to my school to explain the basics of looking after yourself? Perhaps a free physical exam (with explanation) as you finish secondary (high) school, before sending you out in the world to fend for yourself?

Over squeeze?
As I take my pressure for the second time today (141/92, average of three readings), and feel the discomfort of my arteries being squeezed yet again, I wonder if there are any dangers inherent in the measurement process itself!

Lately I've always been taking the average of three succesive readings. This habit started whenever I got a reading that I couldn't believe was so high and so decided to ask for a second opinion. Now that I've been doing it as a habit, I find that the first reading is almost always higher than the next two (at least in the systolic pressure (the first number)). Often the difference is as much as 10 points. Why should that be? Is due to anxiety in the first reading followed by forced relaxation in the second?

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