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Are you and your blood pressure best buddies?

Sunday, July 7, 2024

Although I receive three or more official doctor’s office blood pressure readings annually, I have procrastinated about regularly assessing my blood pressure at home.

I’m sincerely striving to behave responsibly. My father died of a massive heart attack and my maternal grandmother suffered a series of ministrokes in her later years, so I know hypertension is no laughing matter.

Unless… …it’s deadline time and you need a humor column before your editor blows a cardiac gasket!

One reason I had adopted a “no news is good news” approach to b.p. awareness is that I dreaded adding more pharmaceuticals to my pillbox. I mean, some people carry a medicine chest that tempts you to chant, “Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!”

Another excuse was an overabundance of sometimes conflicting online tips for the ideal equipment and conditions for home tests.

Reading between the lines, I could see that one physician thought that my wrist cuff was merely “better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.” (“Oh, and four out of five doctors concede that your favorite thermometer is marginally superior to sticking your left big toe in the trash compactor.”) Furthermore, I was doing commendably well with the whole systolic/ diastolic thingie until 2017, when the threshold for hypertension was dramatically reduced by the American College of Cardiology, the American Heart Association and the American Benevolent Order of Party Poopers.

I suppose I’ve dodged my share of bullets while neglecting my blood pressure. (Ironically, dodging those metaphorical bullets constitutes a large percentage of my exercise regimen.)

I could stand to lose some weight (when did “more to love” become “more to resuscitate”?), but I have several hearthealth factors working in my favor. Alas, the passage of time is not one of them.

Blood vessels become less flexible with age, which is another reason for thinking “youth is wasted on the wrong people.” Kids can cower before monsters under the bed, stress out over playground bullies, obsess over the Elf on the Shelf and still hold up enough fingers to indicate their b.p.!

I finally resolved to be more disciplined about home readings because I yearned to say, “Ha!” to those inexplicably high doctor’s office measurements. I know “white coat hypertension” is a real phenomenon, but my experiences have been ridiculous.

I can avoid caffeine, fire the Morton Salt girl, carpool to the clinic with the Dalai Lama and go to my happy place for 20 minutes –before the nurse asks, “Are you certain you weren’t being beckoned toward a bright light?”

There are a million reasons to do the things needed to keep your numbers under control. For one, an article says that a lower b.p. reading can contribute to improved brain health. Admittedly, the authors may have high blood pressure themselves, as they went on to say, “And with your improved brain, you can study the fairies dancing on your lawn in the moonlight.”

Oh, sure, it means a lot of “minor lifestyle adjustments” and “barely noticeable sacrifices”; but maintaining a log of your readings and developing a plan with your physician can work wonders.

Everyone should aspire to stay alive and healthy so they can watch their grandchildren grow up to …replace their hobbies with sleep time, graze the lawn, have an exercise bike surgically attached to their buttocks… It’s the circle of half-life. *Sigh* Copyright 2024 Danny Tyree, distributed by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate. Danny Tyree welcomes email responses at and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades.”

San Marcos Record

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P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666