Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Well, This is New....

John has acquired a new skill: he's learned to take my blood pressure. Not because he's inquisitive about that sort of thing, and as far as I know has never wanted to be a health care provider.

Nope. He HAD to do it because I asked him nicely. Over the past few months, my blood pressure on my office visits has been on the rise. Dr. Young Guy asked me to take and log my blood pressure daily and report back to him. Since I only own a basic blood pressure cuff and stethoscope meant for clinical use, it's kind of awkward to take my own BP. It's possible, but then I always like to do things the easy way.....and what's more easy than having John do it?

Plus he looks kind of spiff with a stethoscope hanging around his neck. I love a man that knows his way around a sphygmomanometer.....

He was a quick learner. And actually taking a person's blood pressure isn't exactly rocket science. It helps if you put the stethoscope ear pieces in the right places and become familiar with how that tricky valve on the inflation bulb works, and just practice, practice, practice.

You can read more about blood pressure readings here and what they mean, but we all know the gist of things: High blood pressure is hard on our bodies. It's bad for the heart, the lungs, the blood vessels themselves, the brain, and especially the kidneys. What's a high blood pressure reading? According to the National Institutes of Health:

All levels above 120/80 mmHg raise your risk, and the risk grows as blood pressure numbers rise. "Prehypertension" means you're likely to end up with HBP, unless you take steps to prevent it.
     If you're being treated for HBP and have repeat readings in the normal range, your blood pressure is under control. However, you still have the condition. You should see your doctor and follow your treatment plan to keep your blood pressure under control.
     Your systolic and diastolic numbers may not be in the same blood pressure category. In this case, the more severe category is the one you're in. For example, if your systolic number is 160 and your diastolic number is 80, you have stage 2 HBP. If your systolic number is 120 and your diastolic number is 95, you have stage 1 HBP.
     If you have diabetes or chronic kidney disease, HBP is defined as 130/80 mmHg or higher.
My recent blood pressures were running around 160/100. Ouch. Not so great.

Which brought up the question -- what's going on here? Previously, as in up to just a few years ago, my normal blood pressure was 110/60 or so, sometimes even lower.

Dr. Young Guy is strongly suspecting that the culprit here is one of my medications: Gengraf, or cyclosporine. This drug is used to suppress the autoimmune response but is also used in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and organ transplantation, among others. Included in it's lengthy list of side effects is an elevation of blood pressure. You can read more about cyclosporine's effect on blood pressure and other side effects here and here.

After an exchange of e-mails yesterday, (wow, I love that service through my health care provider) we have decided to discontinue the use of this drug, to continue to check and log my blood pressure daily, to e-mail the next two week's worth of readings, and to return to see Dr. YG for more labwork to continue to assess my kidneys, and an office visit, in a month.

I suppose it would also be a good idea to do those dumb stupid logical lifestyle things that help reduce blood pressure: reduce the use of salt and sodium intake, eat an overall healthy diet, get regular exercise, blah blah blah......I suppose......but really. How bad could a few nice salty crispy potato chips be, in all actuality....


BACK, BICJ! This is serious stuff. I'm not going to allow my bratty inner child to lead me down the hypertension highway.

I'll keep y'all posted.


Amy Junod said...

Sounds like you're in good hands.
Tater chips are the devil's work. I swear it.
I sure hope things level off for you and that all of this stuff kicks in so you feel better.

ShEiLa said...

Way to go John!!!

I taught my hubby how to give me my B12 injections... he does a great job!!!


Omgrrrl said...

It's all that mouse blood surging through your veins. Lay off the cheese.