My husband, Dr. William Cushman, heads up clinical trials usually involving blood pressure through the VA Medical Center locally and the National Institutes of Health nationally. Since the results of the recent SPRINT study show that we should all have a systolic (top number) blood pressure of 120 or lower, I hope that lots of folks are headed to their physicians to get checked out and get on an appropriate blood-pressure-lowering regimen. Here’s a video interview with my husband and his friend, Dr. Henry Black, that tells more about the study and results.
I’ve never had high blood pressure, and I’ve recently begun a weight-loss program, but I still decided to begin monitoring my pressure. We have an Omron blood pressure monitor at home, which makes it easy to check my numbers frequently.
And there’s a free Omron Wellness app that syncs the results to your iPhone so you can easily keep up with those numbers. You can also send them to your physician if you need to. Since my BP on Saturday was 105/74, and it’s often quite a bit higher in the doctor’s office, I’ll be sharing my numbers the next time I go in for a check up. There are a couple of reasons that BP levels are often higher in the doctor’s office. One is that they are supposed to let you sit and relax for five minutes before taking your pressure. Of course they never do this. And they are supposed to have you sit in a chair with your back supported, not sitting on an exam table. And they’re supposed to tell you not to cross your legs. All of these things can affect the accuracy of the test, so I sometimes request these procedures be followed. But when I recently asked a nurse to retake my pressure after I rested for five minutes, she said, “I’ll do it, but it will be higher then.” When I asked why she thought that she said, “because you’re obviously stressed out about it and you’ll just get more anxious waiting five minutes.” I wonder why people with attitudes like that even go into the wellness industry.
So why am I writing about blood pressure for Mental Health Monday? Because keeping our systolic pressure at 120 or lower can cut deaths by 25%. And doing something about our physical well being affects our emotional and mental health. I feel better already! (And I only lost a half pound this past week, but that’s a total of 5 ½ pounds in three weeks. Slow but steady….)