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Old 12-12-2004, 01:51 PM   #1
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Inconsistent blood pressure readings

I would appreciate it if anyone could advise me on the following. I am a 40 year old male who has suffered from fairly severe anxiety problems for most of my life. I also suffered regular migraines. I have been under my gp for many years with various ailments such as dizziness, lightheadiness, stress, ocd, aches and pains everywhere, fear of dying.

I went to see a psychologist and they decided i had (somertization disorder sorry about spelling). I have been on blood pressure tablets for 11 years but changed to beta-blockers (bisoprolol) 3 years ago as my previous meds seemed to be causing the dizziness. These worked fine for almost 3 years with my blood pressure regularly under 120/80 with a 45 to 50 beat per minute heart rate. Then 3 months ago my old symptons seemed to appear again and my bp shot up to about 145-150/ 90-95.

I then had to also start taking some new meds for my various anxiety symptoms (effexor xl) 150mg daily which are slowly starting to work as i have been on them almost 3 months but my blood pressure always seems now to be constantly high, averaging 145-155/84-94 with a heart rate of 55-60 where before it was always under 50 because of the beta-blockers.

I measure my bp at home at various times of the day and if i take it in my right arm it sometimes says 150/88, then if i take it in my left arm it is almost a normal reading somewhere around 125-135/77-84. Then if i take it again in my right arm it will then say something140/85.

What i cannot work out is why are my readings inconsistent? Why is my right arm reading always between 10-20 higher than my left arm reading? And why have i got high blood pressure when i do it in my right arm but normal blood pressure when i do it in my left arm? Do i actually have high blood pressure?

When i told my gp he did'nt seem to know the answer, but when he tried it the readings were pretty similar. By the way my monitor is one that you wrap around the top of your arm.

I would appreciate any feedback. Many Thanks. Jammann

 
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Old 12-12-2004, 07:48 PM   #2
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Re: Inconsistent blood pressure readings

Hi Jammann . . . I don't why you'd get a different bp reading between the 2 arms but your bp doesn't sound that bad to me. I do know that the bp monitor I bought (digital with an above the elbow cuff) had directions saying to check my bp on my left arm.

You may want to check out an article written by Dr, John McDougall (he specializes in nutrition and has been an advocate for a healthy lifestyle for more than 25 years) titled "Over-treat Your Blood Pressure and You Could Die Sooner" from his July 2004 newsletter. What I like about Dr. McDougall is that he backs up his premises with research/data.

Here is the website for the printer friendly version of that article:

www.nealhendrickson.com/mcdougall/2004nl/040700bppf.htm

Good luck. Why not go after what you want in your life instead of focusing on any obstacles in your way?

 
Old 12-13-2004, 04:40 AM   #3
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Re: Inconsistent blood pressure readings

Thanks for that, i will try looking that up.

Jammann

 
Old 12-13-2004, 05:19 AM   #4
Ron Ron is offline
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Re: Inconsistent blood pressure readings

Quote:
Originally Posted by jammann
I would appreciate it if anyone could advise me on the following. I am a 40 year old male who has suffered from fairly severe anxiety problems for most of my life. I also suffered regular migraines. I have been under my gp for many years with various ailments such as dizziness, lightheadiness, stress, ocd, aches and pains everywhere, fear of dying.

I went to see a psychologist and they decided i had (somertization disorder sorry about spelling). I have been on blood pressure tablets for 11 years but changed to beta-blockers (bisoprolol) 3 years ago as my previous meds seemed to be causing the dizziness. These worked fine for almost 3 years with my blood pressure regularly under 120/80 with a 45 to 50 beat per minute heart rate. Then 3 months ago my old symptons seemed to appear again and my bp shot up to about 145-150/ 90-95.

I then had to also start taking some new meds for my various anxiety symptoms (effexor xl) 150mg daily which are slowly starting to work as i have been on them almost 3 months but my blood pressure always seems now to be constantly high, averaging 145-155/84-94 with a heart rate of 55-60 where before it was always under 50 because of the beta-blockers.

I measure my bp at home at various times of the day and if i take it in my right arm it sometimes says 150/88, then if i take it in my left arm it is almost a normal reading somewhere around 125-135/77-84. Then if i take it again in my right arm it will then say something140/85.

What i cannot work out is why are my readings inconsistent? Why is my right arm reading always between 10-20 higher than my left arm reading? And why have i got high blood pressure when i do it in my right arm but normal blood pressure when i do it in my left arm? Do i actually have high blood pressure?

When i told my gp he did'nt seem to know the answer, but when he tried it the readings were pretty similar. By the way my monitor is one that you wrap around the top of your arm.

I would appreciate any feedback. Many Thanks. Jammann
-----------------------------------------------------
Hi Jam,

Have you been checked for Lyme Disease? If you were out camping in deer-counrty before these symptoms began, it might be good to get the blood test. The aches and pains have to be figured out

When you take your blood pressure are you relaxed and sitting comfortably
with no fussing to put on the armband? Is your arm resting on a table at about the level of your heart? If it is slower, your BP will be reading higher.

If you take your bp more than once after you have relaxed even more,
does the number get lower?
Have you compared your readings at home to those taken at the free machines at your local pharmacy?
If you are getting some lower readings like 125/74 then you can do it again
if you prepare for the test in the same way. The meds you take to control things like OCD can affect your BP

Anxiety can play a part in high readings, because fears often cause a tightening of your muscles. To prove this, just make a fist on the arm as you are being tested.

Meds that lower your pulse rate can also lower your BP, but that is a
less than natural reading. As long as you do not feel dizzy when you stand up
quickly from a crouched position, your heart is reponding properly to the
demands put on it.
Your diet needs to ensure that you are getting Omega 3 fatty acids and sufficient Vitamin B12. Fast food willl not do it.

Good luck..
Ron

Last edited by Ron; 12-13-2004 at 05:22 AM.

 
Old 12-13-2004, 07:53 AM   #5
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Re: Inconsistent blood pressure readings

Cheers for that Ron,

Yes most times the readings get lower if i take the readings a few times on the trot. What i still cannot work out though is how come i have vastly different readings in each arm?

Jammann

 
Old 12-13-2004, 08:07 AM   #6
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mgraylorn HB User
Re: Inconsistent blood pressure readings

It is not uncommon for the pressure readings to be slightly different between your two arms. Generally a large difference in older people can indicate circulatory problems. Forty seems a bit young for such problems, but if you have high colesterol, suffered some sort of arm injury, etc, that might account for it. I'm just guessing here.

Have you gained weight? This might account for your bp increasing at the same med dosage. I don't know if people aclimate to particular drug levels, and over time have to raise the dosage.

Blood pressure varies over the course of the day, with your activity level and emotional state. If you take your bp when you are anxious, you are bound to get a higher reading. If you relax a bit and take it a short time later, your readings will be lower.

New meds might also cause your bp to rise. You may need to switch to something else, or just give your body a chance to adjust to the med change. Your numbers, while higher than the doctors would like, are not life treatening in the short run. I'd say monitor it occasionally, and try not to get anxious about your readings. If you can stop worrying about them, they may go down.

 
Old 12-14-2004, 11:51 AM   #7
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Re: Inconsistent blood pressure readings

Thanx

Jammann

 
Old 12-14-2004, 03:08 PM   #8
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Posts: 434
Jack51 HB User
Re: Inconsistent blood pressure readings

Quote:
Originally Posted by jammann
What i cannot work out is why are my readings inconsistent? Why is my right arm reading always between 10-20 higher than my left arm reading? And why have i got high blood pressure when i do it in my right arm but normal blood pressure when i do it in my left arm? Do i actually have high blood pressure?
Jammann

I have done a little reading on this concern of yours. I couldn't find a lot of info on why your readings are different, between arms. I have some information that I found, and will post.

I read that if you have a lesion (blockage) in the brachial artery of one of your arms, the BP in that arm will be lower, assuming the lesion was above the cuff, or high in the arm. This is not very likely, at all. You would probably have some associated symptoms, due to reduced blood flow.

If there is a significant difference in the size of your arm, which I doubt, or you would have mentioned it, this can effect the reading. If you are using too small of a cuff size, this will cause a higher reading.

I suspect that it is totally normal. I think that I have noticed a difference between my two arms. You should always go with the higher reading, I have read. This is probably because it's the conservative approach to possible hypertension.

Your reading was the same at the doc's office, so I wouldn't worry about it. If it continues to bother you, go to different pharmacies, and have them check your BP with the real deal equipment. Many in my home town will do it for free. Pop in and try 2 or 3 stores, in both arms. Good luck.

Jack

The following was written by an RN that works for one of the companies that make the hospital BP monitoring equipment:

"Blood pressure is dynamic and can change in seconds. Even a change in the patient’s position usually produces a shift in blood pressure. And blood pressure is different in different extremities—it’s normal to have up to 10mmHg difference in BP between the right and left arms."

Also, here is some information that is interesting:

According to ****** (chairwoman of the American Heart Association Committee that reviewed the current blood pressure guidelines), taking a person's blood pressure when seated on the exam table with no back support can raise blood pressure by 10 points. Not an earth-shaking amount, but one that can buy a lot of intervention if your blood pressure is borderline already.
----------------------------------------------
Similarly, Terent and Breig-Asberg (1994) found that taking the blood pressure with the arm at the side of the chest instead of supported at the level of the heart raised blood pressure by about 10 points as well. [Note that this is the average difference and that some differences may actually be quite a bit greater than 10 points.]
------------------------------------------------
Netea et al. (1999) found that the common practice of having the patient rest her arms on the arm-rests of the chair also resulted in falsely elevated blood pressure values. Along with sitting with legs dangling and no back support, taking blood pressure with arms at the wrong level is probably one of the most common technique errors found.

 
Old 12-15-2004, 05:11 AM   #9
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Re: Inconsistent blood pressure readings

Jack51

Thanx for that, thats most interesting. I am going to see my gp tomorrow so i will mention this to him.

Jammann

 
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