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I've developed panic/anxiety/obsession over my BP!

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Old 12-03-2010, 03:14 PM   #16
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Atlanta, GA
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Redfish2 HB User
Re: I've developed panic/anxiety/obsession over my BP!

Originally Posted by jakep View Post
I've literally been losing sleep over this and I can't focus on anything else. I have a six figure job that I might lose due to my preoccupation with my anxiety. I need to break this cycle.

I'm a 25 year old male, 6"1, 170lbs, athletic. I've been athletic all my life. I cannot believe at my age I'm worrying so much about my health... I'm recently married, bought a house, have a great job, etc. I should be happier than ever but I've turned into an obsessive hypochondriac.

I had bad food poisoning one day recently and went to the ER, when they took my BP I started to have an anxiety attack (I always get nervous as hell when my bp is taken) and it resulted in a ridiculously high reading of 165/95 with a very rapid pulse of > 130. I tried to forget about that.

A couple weeks later I went to donate blood, I took a small dose of propranolol first, 2 hours beforehand, (I take this occasionally for performance anxiety). When they took my BP I was nervous but I could tell the propranolol was doing its job inhibiting the physiological effects of the adrenaline, yet it was still high at 144/92. This pushed me over the edge.

I then purchased a blood pressure monitor so that I can get a better picture of my BP in the calm privacy of my home. And I'm not quite sure how to interpret the results:

I use an OMRON HEM-780 bp monitor
L = left arm, R = right arm, each reading was after a 2min interval

1st reading, (nervous), L, 141/85, pulse 87
2nd reading, (still nervous), R, 140/83, pulse 85
3rd reading (feeling a little more calm), L: 128/82, pulse 74
4th, R: 122/76, pulse 77
5th, L: 127/81, pulse 78
6th, R: 126/81, pulse 74
7th, L: 119/78, pulse 78

The constant pulse rate of > 70 is a little high for me. When I'm entirely relaxed -- which is very rare for me nowadays -- my pulse is usually around 60.

I suppose I should feel relieved with the lower numbers but I cant help but think that they were artificially low due to multiple bp readings in a row (i.e. my blood vessels were constricted from the previous readings or something?). I'm not sure of that phenomenon even exists or if I made it up.

I can't take readings over a 2min interval because with all the time that passes I build up anticipatory anxiety.

I kept taking my blood pressure throughout the day and I kept getting the same trend; i start out at 140 and then with each 2-min interval I drop down, with my lowest reading being 114/69. BUT I ONLY REMEMBER THE BIG NUMBERS.

I can't get that initial 165/95 reading out of my mind.

I also cannot get the 144/92 while on propranolol out of my mind -- I thought beta blockers were supposed to lower my BP!

I shared this with my doctor and he didn't seem concerned, rather, he gave me xanax and wanted to refer me to a psychiatrist.

Yesterday I flew out on a business trip and begrudgingly decided to leave my BP monitor at home. Since I got here I've been in panic about this. I couldn't sleep last night.

Now I've convinced myself that I've done irreparable damage to my heart/kidneys and I have a death sentence. I'm afraid to go back to the doctor to discuss this or have tests done.



I actually have an Omron BP system (model HEM-711), & recently spoke w/ knowledgeable rep. at Omron about common problems leading to false readings, & wanted to give you a heads-up about that. (You also may want to give them a call - very nice, professional). First of all, it's very important to wait at least 5 minutes (10 minutes may be better) after your initial reading before taking another reading; otherwise, the artery(s) is/are still constricted, & subsequent reading will not be accurate (& will typically be falsely low, which may be contributing to your pattern of subsequent low readings after first reading). Also, don't put cuff on - even if it's not yet inflated - until you're ready to take reading; otherwise it'll be off (usually falsely low). Remove cuff right after reading if you're going to have additional readings, since even having cuff on (again, even if it's not yet inflated) constricts artery(s)). Also, as you're likely aware, you want the arrow in middle of elbow (left to right) and ~ 1/2 inches above elbow crease; back supported w/ feet flat on ground.
Similar to your experience, I'm also having a difficult time determining my actual / representative bp due to anxiety. I have "white coat syndrome", which led to my purchase of Omron unit. It's an insidious problem, with a pavlovian-type response where ea. time bp cuff goes on, anxiety sets in, resulting in (likely) falsely elevated readings. I suspect that the only way to break this pattern is to try to relax ea. time you put cuff on, & tell yourself that you don't care what result will be - you just want to know what your real bp is so that you can take appropriate action. For ex., "if it's elevated, then it is what it is, & I can move on with the best recommended actions" (i.e., diet & exercise, & medication if needed, depending on dr's advice).

Hope that helps some...

Last edited by Redfish2; 12-03-2010 at 03:27 PM. Reason: Important point to add...

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Old 12-20-2010, 12:00 PM   #17
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 63
Charmbracelet81 HB User
Re: I've developed panic/anxiety/obsession over my BP!

I have gotten so bad that I bought an at home blood pressure machine. I obsess with evry aspect of my heart but get some sort of relief when my numbers come out good...turn that around and I panic if the numbers are high. I check it around 50 times a day, and feel my pulse in between. I also obsess with my breathing if my heart is being "good." I am trying to break the cycle as well since it is interrupting my job as well. I know how you feel. I understand.

Old 12-21-2010, 06:03 AM   #18
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Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: new york
Posts: 118
unreal HB Userunreal HB User
Re: I've developed panic/anxiety/obsession over my BP!

Their is no problem with your blood pressure. Your numbers are normal and health. The one "little" spike you had is also normal and in no way dangerous.

As to your pulse, get ride of the propranolol. Propranolol is a beta blocker and it is easy to become dependent on it. Abrupt discontinuation will raise you pulse, generally as soon as 24 hours after discontinued.

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