Author Topic: My Odyssey in search of a blood-pressure monitor.  (Read 362 times)

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Offline daniel1948

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My Odyssey in search of a blood-pressure monitor.
« on: February 11, 2017, 07:21:35 PM »
Ever since I began jogging, 33 years ago, they've always told me my blood pressure was excellent. Though maybe in the last few years they've said "good" rather than "excellent." When I had my TIA, my BP was high, but I figured that was because of the attack. But then I was diagnosed with orthostatic hypotension (low BP when I stand) and I got a wrist-style automatic BP monitor, which didn't work at all and I returned it and got an upper-arm-style BP monitor instead.

I found that my BP was erratic, sometimes very high, as high as 187/109 on one occasion. I figured that a manual aneroid sphygmomanometer was probably best, and I got one that was highly rated, but I could not get the cuff on one-handed. The cuff on my automatic monitor is designed to put on one-handed, but the other is not, so I could not use it.

The last time I was at the clinic I brought my Omron BP monitor and compared it with the reading the nurse got, and the Omron read ten points high on the systolic, and 5 points high on the diastolic. So I resumed my search for a manual one I could use. I sent away for a replacement cuff that was designed for one-handed use, but didn't realize that it has only one hose (for an automatic monitor) rather than the two hoses needed for a manual sphygmomanometer.

So then I did what I should have done at the beginning: I went to Walgreens and bought a manual aneroid sphygmomanometer with a cuff designed for one-handed use. But it had a built-in stethoscope that is so crappy you can't hear the knocks at all. (For those who don't know, when using a manual sphygmomanometer you listen for the sharp knocking sound that as you release the pressure starts at the systolic and ends at the diastolic.) I could use that one with my own stethoscope, but the built-in one got in the way. Finally I realized that was only held in place with a screw, and I could remove it without damaging the cuff.

So now I have an aneroid sphygmomanometer that I can use with my own stethoscope. It's very awkward because I have to hold the stethoscope in place with my right hand while I simultaneously use the little screw-valve on the bulb to release the pressure slowly, also with the right hand, and while keeping the left arm completely relaxed, because any movement or tensing of the arm messes with the pressure. But I can do it.

It's hard, though, because the knocking does not start and stop abruptly. There's a hint of it before it appears full-volume, and at the low end it kind of fades out rather than stopping suddenly. And meanwhile, every beat of the heart causes the pressure gauge to jump a couple of points. (About one notch on my gauge.)

I think on Monday I'll go to the clinic and see if a nurse will give me some pointers.

And now the Omron is giving me readings of the systolic significantly lower than I'm getting, and even though I'm sure I have not yet completely gotten the hang of it, I'm getting very definite knocking a good 10 points higher than the Omron is saying. My readings of the diastolic are pretty close to the Omron. But the Omron was reading the systolic ten points high at the doctor's office.

At least I've had no more incidents of high BP since they put me on 5 mg of Lisinopril, a few days ago.
Daniel
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"Anyone who has ever looked into the glazed eyes of a soldier dying on the battlefield will think long and hard before starting a war."
-- Otto von Bismarck

Offline daniel1948

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Re: My Odyssey in search of a blood-pressure monitor.
« Reply #1 on: May 28, 2017, 06:28:05 PM »
So that was 3 1/2 months ago. With practice I got the hang of using the aneroid sphygmomanometer, and eventually went back to the clinic where I compared my reading to the reading the nurse got, to the reading from the Omron unit. My reading agreed with the nurse's reading, and the Omron was completely off.

Meanwhile, the Lisinopril gave me a really horrid cough. It mostly controlled my BP, but I still had occasional episodes of slightly too-high BP. They switched me to Losartan, because of the cough, but the cough persisted. So they switched me to hydrochlorothiazide, and the cough went away. My BP was most often around 135 +/- 5 over 80 +/- 5, with occasional episodes higher. My doctor was okay with that, as long as the average was 140/90 or less.

On Friday I saw my cardiologist, who feels that 140/90 is too high, and who said that most people with high BP need two meds. So he cut my hydrochlorothiazide in half and added amlodipine. The former is a diuretic and the latter is a calcium channel blocker. It's too early to be certain, because during these several months, I've had periods of days when my BP is good, only then to have an episode when it's high. But I think it's made a big difference.

They also want me to limit my sodium to 2 gm/day. The RDA is from 1.5 gm/day to 2.3 gm/day, depending on who you listen to, so they're really just telling me to limit myself to the RDA. You actually only need 0.5 gm/day. And damn, it's hard to keep it that low because there's a bucket of sodium in nearly everything. Even V-8 juice and canned string beans are loaded with it. The canned chili beans I like have 50% of my daily RDA of sodium in one lousy can. Even if I just have half a can that's a quarter of my salt for the day. I may have to go back to cooking my own beans from scratch, something I did when I lived in Mexico, but I've been too lazy to do since I left there.
Daniel
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"Anyone who has ever looked into the glazed eyes of a soldier dying on the battlefield will think long and hard before starting a war."
-- Otto von Bismarck

 

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