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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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June 03, 2009

Makes My Blood Boil

By Mark Sisson
134 Comments

blood boilI had a medical scare two weeks ago that shook me up quite a bit. No, not because there was anything wrong with me, but because if I had been someone else and didn’t know what I know, I might be suffering the side effects of blood pressure meds as I write this today. And that’s a slippery slope I never want to ride. Yet this scenario plays out in most doctors’ offices every day.

I had a slight skin thingy on my always-in-the-sun arm. I thought it might be prudent to get it checked out, and I had an hour before my next meeting, so I took an impromptu opening in my doctor’s schedule to have him take a look. In my naïveté, I thought I could waltz in, have him scan it for 15 seconds and send me home with a clean bill of health and a xylitol lollipop. But this being LA and that being a doctor’s office and needing to follow protocol (so as not to get sued for malpractice AND to be able to bill me full pop), the nurse ushered me into a waiting room and took my weight (still 165), height (still 5’10”) and my blood pressure, which I had no reason to suspect had changed since I qualified for the lowest rates possible on my in-home life insurance physical just a few years ago. It had been 122/82 that day. Cha ching.

Imagine, then, my mortification when the nurse casually announced that my BP was 140/100.

Now, in the not-too-distant olden days, if you were 100 plus your age for systolic (the first number) you were considered to have normal BP. Then the powers that be started to opine that 120 over 80 was more normal and that 140 over 90 was hypertensive. Recently, the medical industry (always looking for a way to get you medicated) has started to suggest that a “normal” 120/80 is in fact “pre-hypertensive.” Hey, the more drugs they can sell to healthy people the faster our economy will turn around, right? So at 140/100 I was a little taken aback. I sat there for ten more minutes waiting and going over all the possibilities in my mind: jet lag? (I had just gotten back from NYC the day before and hadn’t slept well), dehydration? (as you know, I don’t drink much water), white coat syndrome? (being in a doctor’s office automatically jacks up some peoples’ BP as much as 20 points), stress? (yeah, I do have stress, and I don’t handle it like I should). All these things can artificially elevate BP. I was going through all the other impossible reasons why I might test high when the doctor strode in, looked at my arm for five seconds and proclaimed the skin thingy nothing. Then he looked at my chart.

“Your blood pressure is a bit high” he says, with eyebrows raised behind his glasses.

“Yeah,” I respond, “let’s check it again, because I don’t believe it.”

So he checks it himself, and now it’s 140 over 101. He says, “ordinarily, because I am big on prevention, I would start you on medication right away, but you look pretty healthy, so let’s check it again here in three weeks, and if it’s still in this range, I’ll prescribe something. Meanwhile, try to eat better and cut back on salt. And maybe we should schedule you for a complete physical.” Well. OK, then. That’s sound advice. He was in and out in six minutes, too. Good thing he didn’t check the BP one more time, because it would likely have been 170/130 after that comment.

I had never really thought much about my own blood pressure until that moment. I’ve always had impressive stats when it comes to heart rate, BP, blood sugar, cholesterol and all the other markers we/they use. Not that I get tested much, because I try to stay away from doctors. Hey, I’m Primal. Why shouldn’t I? But something was wrong here and I needed to take control.

I decided it was time for another “experiment of one.” I drove down the street to CVS and, after a brief seminar on the benefits of all the available blood pressure monitors, wound up buying one of the coolest little home-testing devices I’ve ever seen. It’s an Omron 711-DLX with a pressure cuff that inflates automatically and outputs a big-ass digital reading every time. They say it’s as accurate (or more so) than a nurse or doctor. Consumer Reports rated it number one.

Over the next six days, I tested my blood pressure during 10 different sessions under various circumstances. At each session, I performed and recorded five tests, with about two minutes rest between tests. So the total number of “data points” I got was 50. Here is a brief summary of my results:

  1. In 50 readings, there were no repeats. Every single reading was unique. Not once was my blood pressure repeatable from one test to another or one day to another. I think that defies even common laws of probability.
  2. I never got up to 140/100 in any of my tests. The closest I got was the very first test I did the following morning (which was closest to when I had left the doc’s office). That was a single first reading of 133/92. But even then, my five-test-average for that session was 128/90 with a low of 127/83.
  3. That same night, after dinner (including two glasses of wine) I recorded a low reading of 102/66 and a five-reading average of 108/66! So in one 28 hour period, I had gone from “mild stage-1, give’em drugs” to “low-normal.”  That’s a huge variation.
  4. Almost invariably, the first reading in any session was the highest of the five tests. So if you throw that first one out, the average drops even more. I didn’t, though.
  5. Over the next several days, I tried to look for patterns. The closest I got was that in the evening I generally settle at around 110/67. I guess dinner is relaxing. Otherwise I’m up at times and down at times.

If you plot my results, they are all over the place. It’s a scattergram that only remotely correlates to time of day and/or circumstance. It turns out that blood pressure in most people (as in me) is a very dynamic metric. One solitary reading is about as useful for diagnosing hypertension as one piano note is for identifying a song. Yet, historically, the medical profession has recommended you test for BP once a year, and as recently as 2004 Dr.  William M. Tierney concluded that “a single elevated blood pressure reading – particularly an elevated systolic reading – is a reliable predictor of future problems and should not be dismissed as a fluke.” Start the drugs, nurse.

It’s only now beginning to change. Here’s a very cool article well worth the read. In it Dr. Norman M. Kaplan admits, “Of all the procedures done in a doctor’s office, measurement of blood pressure is usually the least well performed but has the most important implications for the care of the patient.” It also acknowledges that readings in doctors’ offices are notoriously bad and should not form the basis for a diagnosis, and further suggests multiple readings in the home throughout the day as the only reliable method.

Here’s what I know: The body is constantly seeking homeostasis and must make adjustments to blood pressure, heart rate, breathing, immune function, cholesterol and a hundred other parameters literally minute by minute, day-to-day based on input from you. Every time you take a bite of food, move around, decide to sleep or not, react to stress or perform any number of other normal human functions, hormonal and gene signals are sent to readjust and bring you back into balance. As long as you are eating well (Primally), exercising moderately and controlling stress, there’s a very good chance your blood pressure will be exactly where it needs to be. I was 140/100 for a reason that day. Just like I was 102/66 a day later for a different reason. Not that it had a chance in hell of happening, but what makes me sick is the idea that I might have been prescribed a diuretic and/or an ACE inhibitor to artificially lower my blood pressure had I been someone else and just accepted the good doctor’s advice without truly investigating this. And believe me, this happens every day in doctor’s offices throughout the country. Based on a government medical committee assessment that 120/80 (formerly normal) is now “pre-hypertensive,” some 50 million Americans are in line to be on blood pressure lowering meds. Some might actually benefit. Most would be far better off living Primally and letting the body do what it needs to do naturally to achieve balance.

Of course, all this begs the next question: I’m 8% body fat…does that make me “pre-obese”?

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134 Comments on "Makes My Blood Boil"

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jpippenger
7 years 3 months ago

I’ve never thought about how unreliable a single blood pressure test would be. I have a home bp machine, and have found that taking multiple readings in a row, tends to give me many different outcomes, but I always contributed that to user error. (I.e., ME)

Susan Q
7 years 3 months ago
A few things: –I hope this quy doesn’t really get sick, because he has no faith in the medical community. –I am a Nurse Practitioner with Cardiology Background; First, medicine is EVIDENCE-BASED in today’s practice; There are STANDARDS of Care — and these are all based on reliable multi-centered double-blinded research studies and outcomes. It is shown numerous times that getting and maintaing a B/P < 120 systolic and < 90 Diastolic (120/90) significantly decreases your chances of cardiovascular events (like stroke and heart attack).. So I suggest who ever reads this, research the studies for your answer. Don’t take… Read more »
Susan Q
7 years 3 months ago

Additionally, it is expected to have variance in your blood pressure from minute to minute. No different than heart rate variabilty. If you take your blood pressure 30 min before you eat chinese food (high in sodium, extremely so) then take it 3o min after you eat — you will see a difference in readings.

Vesna
6 years 8 months ago

@SusanQ: “It is a known fact that Sodium intake reduction actually decreases blood pressure … Go to the American Heart Association’s website and check it out for yourself.”

No, it isn’t. No, it doesn’t. This is an unfortunately persistent piece of misinformation that’s been foisted on us in recent decades. See Gary Taube’s award-winning article on the subject, “The (Political) Science of Salt,” originally published in Science magazine.

http://www.nasw.org/awards/1999/99Taubesarticle1.htm

Shary
Shary
4 years 3 months ago
I know two people who almost died as a result of low sodium. Reducing it SOMEWHAT is good; trying to reduce it too much is really asking for trouble. White Coat Syndrome most assuredly DOES exist. I’m a prime example. It’s gotten so bad that I’m almost in panic mode when someone in a doctor’s office takes my blood pressure. I’m scared to death it will be too high, and then of course it is too high. Furthermore, most of the medical people I’ve encountered don’t even know the proper way to measure blood pressure. I was placed on toxic… Read more »
Enlightened
Enlightened
3 years 8 months ago
As a medical professional for 40 years I spent all day recording B/P every 5 minutes or even more often of patients under anesthesia. The graph was rarely a straight line as the crow flies. More like a highway through the mountains. If there was an exact duplication of numbers in a 4 hour time that was a rare event. No white coat syndrome here, these patients were “out of it”. For 40 years I operated under the belief that pharmaceuticals were the answer to restoring “health” under the “health” care system. After having my own issues for which the… Read more »
Tim N.
Tim N.
2 years 9 months ago
Actually, Susan Q, let me hit YOU with some knowledge. The “Evidence Based Medicine” that you worship at the altar of, has been bastardized. Most of it is paid for by the drug companies, and it is well-known and studied that industry funded studies are much more likely to find benefit for a treatment than non-industry funded studies. I wonder why that would be?? Also, there is a TON of things within conventional western medicine which are NOT evidence based. Including treating Stage I hypertension in primary prevention with antihypertensives. Don’t believe me, then here would be a good place… Read more »
Tiff
Tiff
1 year 7 months ago

Well said, Tim!!! You rock!!

dalvarez
dalvarez
7 years 3 months ago

I tend to trust my resting heart rate over my BP. 🙂

Ray Butlers
Ray Butlers
6 years 8 months ago

Those are two different things. Just curious – why “trust”? Is your heart rate more “true” than your blood pressure reading? Does heart rate indicate the same thing as a blood pressure reading?

MikeGP
MikeGP
7 years 3 months ago

Good article Mark….im 28, im at 10% – 11% BF and never get sick, so i never go to the doctor, its been years since I last saw a doctor, other than a dentist for regular cleaning. At what age should i start worrying about HR pressure and that kind of stuff? I feel like im still to young and “healthy” to worry about that…

rob
rob
7 years 3 months ago

…does that make me “pre-obese”?

your BMI is 23.7 which is on the high side of normal, so I guess the answer is that you are pre-overweight not yet pre-obese, but keep working out an you will get there. 🙂

Don’t you love numbers you can make them be whatever you want them to be.

rob
rob
7 years 3 months ago

oh, BTW if you want to loose a little of that excess weight, here is some advice emailed to me today:

Here’s what you can do to lose weight or avoid becoming overweight or obese:

Eat more fruit, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains.
Exercise, even moderately, for at least 30 minutes a day.
Cut down your consumption of fatty and sugary foods.
Use vegetable-based oils rather than animal-based fats.

from: http://www.everydayhealth.com/healthy-living/obesity-prevention.aspx?xid=nl_EverydayHealthHeartHealth_20090603

Ruth
7 years 3 months ago
Mark, Wow. That is a scary, but sadly, unsurprising story. Your doctor is either thoroughly brainwashed, or completely irresponsible. My sister is a doctor, and in any medical measurements, there are always healthy outliers (people who don’t fall into statistical norms in some areas–damned lies and statistics–but whose other indicators are normal/healthy). I’m really glad you’re posting this. It is very critical for people to know about this. I hope it gets a lot of Internet buzz. BTW, on the sleep section of your fabulous book. I’m really enjoying it. I already had a lot of respect for your knowledge… Read more »
Cody
Cody
7 years 3 months ago

Hey Ruth, would you ask your sister a question on how much of a doctors education is in prevention? My guess is it is pretty close to nil.
I’m sorry to say,but IMO most MD’s and pharmaceutical companies are in cahoots. A lot of money involved, makes for some pretty hasty decisions based on a couple of “higher than normal’ tests 🙁

Ruth
7 years 3 months ago

Cody,

I’d be glad to. It probably depends a bit upon where one goes to school, but I’ll ask her.

My sister is actually a pediatric psychiatrist, and I know she’s perturbed by Ridlin abuse, etc., etc.

Ray Butlers
Ray Butlers
6 years 8 months ago

That’s a Straw Man question. Doctor’s are not in the prevention business. They’re in the diagnosis business. They do not go out in the streets and look for people to advise. Sick people go to them.

Further, thousands of doctors do preventive work.

Ahem.

Monitoring and lowering blood pressure is a preventative process. The goal is to prevent heart attacks and strokes.

You really need to get over this paranoia about medicine.

Teresa
Teresa
4 years 8 months ago
They don’t have to go out in the street. We are sent to them. (job physical, school physical) Although, have you noticed all the commercials for drugs? Instructing you to ask your doctor if it’s right for you? The drug companies are sending you in. I have to say, I don’t see the point in taking meds that make you miserable. (some of the side effects are worse than what it’s prescribed for.) It’s not like they make you immortal. A doctor works for you. You don’t HAVE to do what he/she says. I worked in a retirement area. Customers… Read more »
Jeremiah Pell
Jeremiah Pell
4 years 6 months ago
Please do not take this as me being combative or negative. There is a very real issue with doctors and people being paranoid. I completely understand the paranoia as I’ve had to deal with this myself with taking bad meds and not fixing the real problem. The doctors are in cahoots with the pharmacutical industry and the doctors have a little book with all the drugs listed and symptoms they supposedly fix. Doctors get a kickback when they prescribe either certain or all medicines, so their motiviation is mostly financial. The doctors don’t really know what they are doing all… Read more »
Erich
7 years 3 months ago
This post really hit home for me and I can absolutely relate to the title. I can not stand it when fat people tell me I need to workout out more and eat better. I am 6′ tall, 195 pounds and 7.1% bodyfat (according to a hydrostactic bodyfat test). I have been told several times that I have high blood pressure, with a typical reading of 140/60 with a heart rate of 46, and was even prescribed hydrochlorothiazide (which I never took a single pill of). A good friend of mine is a nurse and told me a probably have… Read more »
Ray Butlers
Ray Butlers
6 years 8 months ago

See ya at your funeral!

Rodney
Rodney
7 years 3 months ago
Just a few random thoughts. 1. As you have noted, stress can cause elevated blood pressure, and you might not even feel stressed, but you can’t trick your body. When I had a minor knee operation I felt completely at ease at the hospital getting ready to go, but my blood pressure was unusually high nonetheless. 2. This brings to mind the phrase “white coat syndrome” to describe a transient elevated blood pressure brought on by the stress of being in the presence of a physician. 3. If you ever get an unusually high reading make sure to check it… Read more »
JohnG
JohnG
7 years 3 months ago

The inability of most doctors to understand even basic statistics amazes and frightens me. In a situation where 50 observations show (what seem like) wild differences, how can any doctor seriously diagnose a patient after one or two readings?

Emily
7 years 3 months ago

This is very scary, and really worries me for all those who aren’t properly informed (sadly, the majority). One of the worst things I ever hear is, “Well, my doctor said…”

Ray Butlers
Ray Butlers
6 years 8 months ago

so…. you’re scared that someone might lower their blood pressure? This is scary because….?

Ryan Denner
7 years 3 months ago

Mark,

I dig the personal feel to this post, especially “big-ass digital” reading, and the use of “hell”. I agree with you too on BMI, at 5’7”, 150 lbs, and 10% BF, I am borderline overweight. As you noted, “start the drugs nurse”.

Jdawg
Jdawg
7 years 3 months ago

Ryan,
You need to consider that BMI’s are a “dated” measure. They don’t take body-composition type into account. Mesomorphs, for instance, are not considered differently even though they have greater lean muscle mass and proportionally greater bone density than ectomorphs. Just follow a couple standard deviations above the norm, that’s what I hear, maybe even seek a DO, get a entirely contrasting slant to your typical MD. Best

Daniel Merk
7 years 3 months ago
Mark, Unfortunaately I am one of those statistics trying to get out of this mess. Pre January 2009 I have been pretty overweight and had a so-so diet. I have been on 2 major BP meds for almost 10 years trying to get off of them recently. The sad thing is that with over 12 hours a week of working out (insert plug to Beach Body here) I am now experiencing light headed-ness constantly and my BP is all over the place. Sounds normal. Here is the scary part. I was 29 years old when I was prescribed these meds.… Read more »
musajen
musajen
7 years 3 months ago
I did something similar about 18 months ago, started bp meds because my bp was about 140/80 and there were several visits that showed similar readings. I was with a new doctor, an internal medicine guy, and he thought I needed treatment so I went along with it, not questioning. Two months ago I stopped taking my bp meds (wanted to see if they were the cause of two new conditions I developed since starting the meds; acid reflux and anxiety attacks). I went through about a month of light-headedness, dizziness, and daily headaches. I think I’m back to normal… Read more »
Cass
Cass
7 years 3 months ago

People have a tendency to suffer a sort of stress effect when getting pulse and blood pressure taken in the doctor’s office. Often blood pressure is significantly higher when the nurse takes it before seeing the doctor than if they take it again after.

Henry Miller
Henry Miller
7 years 3 months ago

That is why the nurse takes a lot or readings, and asks a lot of questions, and then the doctor does the same. You learn the machine really wasn’t that bad, so you relax next time. You have time to remember details that you should have told the nurse.

Geoff
Geoff
7 years 3 months ago

I wish. I’ve never had a nurse or doctor take more than one test. Good thing I have a home BP monitor.

John FitzGibbon
John FitzGibbon
7 years 3 months ago
So Mark Couple of comments, I was a dummy for a PA program when they were testing the students on BP stuff. I learned that the way in which you sit can change your BP a lot, along with a great number of other factors. There is apparently a lot of error in the way that BP is taken at doctors offices etc. Secondly as a scientist, when I take my measurements I get pretty suspicious something is wrong if I get identical readings on any measurment I take. You have to assume there is some error etc, don’t know… Read more »
AaronBlaisdell
7 years 3 months ago
“It also acknowledges that readings in doctors’ offices are notoriously bad” I agree. I mean Sports Illustrated? or Good Huntin’ Times? C’mon! Who reads that stuff! What about a few recent copies of Wise Traditions from the Weston A Price Foundation? Hell, I’ll even take some old copies. Sorry for the humor; can’t resist. Seriously though, measurement error is something everyone in the sciences learns about on Day 1. This same problem crops up with many other “one-shot” measurements taken at the doctor’s office, including blood glucose levels. A friend of mine (Seth Roberts) bought a few meters to test.… Read more »
whitecap
whitecap
7 years 3 months ago

I had a very similar experience while pregnant many moons back. I borrowed my grandfather-in-law’s Omron bp reader after a single elevated reading that had the obstetrician lecturing me severely, and found just what you describe – enormous variation over time but nothing ever elevated it as effectively as a trip to the ob man it seems. I just added bp to the list of topics on which I ignored him after that.

Alex
Alex
7 years 3 months ago
As someone who ‘suffers’ from ‘white-coat hypertension’ I dread having my BP taken at the docs. My main gripe (and probably ties in with your highly fluctuating readings) is that these automatic electronic BP meters are woefully unreliable – no matter what the marketing blurb says – even the one’s in GPs offices (especially those if my experience is anything to go by!). I long for the days when GPs actually used a sphygmomanometer that was pumped up and deflated manually while he listened to your brachial artery pulse through a stethoscope. In fact I bought a set myself and… Read more »
Katie
Katie
7 years 3 months ago

At least where I’ve been to the doctor, they only seem to use the manual cuffs. I can’t imagine relying on a piece of technology when a brain should be able to detect these things just as well.

primalman
primalman
7 years 3 months ago
That’s an interesting story Mark. It is remarkable how little critical thinking actually occurs during primary care visits these days. How long were you seated and relaxed before your BP was taken the first time? One thing that makes my blood boil is that most Dr.s are so quick to use the prescription pad. One thing that I use with my patients ( I am a healthcare provider) to help train lower BP can be found here: http://www.resperate.com/clinician/clinical/demo.aspx It is a great little device that is FDA approved for the treatment of hypertension and has no known side-effects. However, very… Read more »
Donna
Donna
7 years 3 months ago

No, it does not make you pre-obese. Your weight is muscle-which weighs more than fat-and you’re certainly not that! Your body fat is low which is not enough fat to make you overweight. High body fat hinders athletic ability to move quickly, run fast, jump high, you definitely don’t have that problem, either!

BigJeff
BigJeff
6 years 22 days ago
It was obviously a jab at the BMI, which is completely arbitrary and an unrealistic metric for obesity. The fact that it is based solely on weight and height, combined with the fact that muscle is five times as dense as fat, should tell you how wildly imprecise it is. Most athletes are overweight according to the BMI (excepting long distance runners and other ultra-skinny athletes), and every well-muscled man you’ve ever met is probably borderline obese according to the BMI. Nobody who is serious about body fat uses the BMI, but it is still the only metric most doctors… Read more »
Sterling
7 years 3 months ago

So, so, so, so TRUE!! ‘Quick’ health checks are a line item for physicians and a ‘check-the-box’, ‘eat better’…is one step away from yet another visit (cha-ching) and a prescription (cha-ching).

mark
7 years 3 months ago

Outstanding post!

ReachWest
ReachWest
7 years 3 months ago
The implications of this are alarming – vast numbers of people who have a single high reading and trust the medical profession blindly, therefore ending up on BP reducing drugs. It is truly sad. I know many friends/family that are on some form of BP drug – I wonder how many of those folks have actual BP issues. As an aside, I had a similar experience a couple of years ago – had a check-up and was told that I had high BP. Like Mark, I bought my own home monitor (also have an Omron 711 – great BP tool)… Read more »
Primalchild
Primalchild
7 years 3 months ago
This is an eerily timely and relevant post since I had a bit of a blood pressure shocker at the doctor’s office just yesterday. A few weeks ago I was at the supermarket, having walked 15 blocks to get there right after my fasted morning workout, to pick up some things for the day. I saw a blood pressure monitor and decided to give it a go. I’d last checked my BP more than a year ago when it was hovering near the golden 120 / 80. This time it read 150 / 93. So I tested it again later… Read more »
Kaydee
Kaydee
7 years 3 months ago
My parents have an at home BP monitor for the wrists and one day I tested my BP and it was 140/100. It really scared me a lot b/c I knew my eating and exercising habits had really gone downhill. I stumbled upon MDA searching for some advice and guidance. This site and all it’s info all sounded very sound and made scientific and logical sense to me. In about 1 1/2 months my BP readings have considerably decreased on a steady basis. I began working out and following the Primal way of eating. It is now around 94/60 sometimes… Read more »
diamond
diamond
7 years 3 months ago

Same thing happened to me. Way high in the office. Got home, Omron was around 130 / 80. Later, and next day,121/70, pulse rate of 58. Not stellar, but hardly the 150/95 in the doctors office.

I wonder if the same occurs with intraoptic eye pressure? (I have pigmentary glaucoma).??

rob
rob
7 years 3 months ago

The low salt thing brings up a question. Where did grok get his iodine from? Especially those groks who were land locked?

BigJeff
BigJeff
6 years 22 days ago

There is no iodine in sea-salt, so grok wouldn’t have gotten it there anyway. It is naturally found in the soil in most regions of the world, and vegetables generally have the needed iodine.

Iodine is added to salt primarily because processed foods have little to no iodine in them (creating the modern iodine deficiency), and adding it to salt is easy.

Small amounts of iodine are necessary for proper thyroid function, and a lack of iodine in the diet increases mental retardation rates. Thus the big push for iodised salt.

Holly
Holly
7 years 3 months ago

It just sounds like you need to prescribe yourself a new doctor. My doctor is great – he even told me to go low-carb (basically eat primal as he described it) and take a walk at night to stay healthy! They even do BP the old-fashioned way. It takes some shopping around but not all doctors are bad.

Joe
Joe
7 years 3 months ago

I had something very similar to this happen a couple years back. The initial nurse took my BP with an electronic meter twice and readings came back in the 150/80 range. This was a shock to me since my BP has always been in the 110/60 range. Later once the Doctor comes in we have a conversation about my health/habits and he thinks the measurement maybe wrong. We conclude that maybe the device or measuring using the electronic machine is not accurate, so he does it manually and gets a reading of 117/65.

Karin
Karin
7 years 3 months ago

Rob,
From flesh, mostly. Dairy has it, too.

JohnG
JohnG
7 years 3 months ago

Aaron,

Great post. Do you know of any other academic sources criticizing medicine in such a manner? I’d love to read anything that you know of. For example, I’ve glanced through a few papers by John P. A. Ioannidis about the reliability of medical studies.

Thanks,
John

Marlys
Marlys
7 years 3 months ago
Caffeine elevates my blood pressure for several hours, so maybe you had too much coffee that morning? Also NutraSweet cranks it up faster than anything (I know you don’t use the stuff, but others might). Mine was elevated despite medication and cutting back on the salt. Cutting back on the sugar and grains was much more beneficial. I’m still on medication, but my doctor says I may be able to get off of it in about 20 more pounds and to keep eating the way I’m eating. I just had my cholesterol checked and HDL is higher, and LDL &… Read more »
Danielle
Danielle
7 years 3 months ago
My husband has the White Coat Effect. He dislikes doctors offices and it raises his BP. He was given a prescription. I now use my own BP machine at home – like you. Here is another thing people should be aware of. Doctors must use the proper cuff size to get an accurate reading. Often if one is overweight, obese or has a nice set of “guns” – doctors/assistants will often use a regular sized cuff and get high readings. When I inform them of their mistake, they just write the high number in my chart. Thankfully, low carb primal… Read more »
Vin | NaturalBias.com
7 years 3 months ago

This is a testament to how doctors have been brainwashed into medicating healthy people. Cholesterol is no different.

Not only do the parameters of our body change on a day to day and even second to second basis for good reason, “white coat syndrome” is an important consideration, as is the measurement techniques used (the nurse should be supporting your arm at heart height). It’s a great idea to have a unit at home to measure blood pressure yourself.

Brian
Brian
7 years 3 months ago
Another thing that could influence blood pressure is body position, and I’ve seen a lot of nurses that don’t take the time to make sure someone’s in the proper position for having their blood pressure taken. You should be seated with your arm resting on a surface at heart-level with your elbow bent. Holding your arm at heart level, or having it supported above or below heart level or having it straight out can all influence BP readings. I’ve not been to the doctor in several years, but I remember many times the nurse would bring me and immediately take… Read more »
David
David
7 years 3 months ago
Tanks Mark for heightening our BP awareness by sharing your recent dr. office visit! Speaking of raising a person’s BP, maybe someone can give me some insight on the following: I’m eating Paleo and doing crossfit 5 days a week. trying to cut back on body fat which was at 12% 4 months ago, I’ve noticed more body fat around my stomach the past 2 weeks. What gives?! I’m eating mostly lean meat, good fats, and vegetables and some fruit for carbs. Wish I knew the reason for this. Can someone give me some sage advice how to change the… Read more »
Mike OD - Life Spotlight
7 years 3 months ago

People go to doctors —–> Sit and wait anxiously (waiting room, small exam room) for long time —-> First thing they check is BP —–> It’s always going to be high in a DR’s office —–> Dr gives out meds and moves onto the next patient.

and we wonder why everyone is so sick and unhealthy.

Mike OD - Life Spotlight
7 years 3 months ago

@ Dave – You workout way too much….need to cut back and stop creating so much stress to your body (aka weight gain to your belly), that only will take you in the other direction. Like Mark says…do your workouts with more intensity and shorter/less often…and all other activity longer and with less intensity. Do workouts 2-3x a week for the muscles and then just get out and enjoy life/go play! I’m sure you’ll see the weight start falling off again.

Cody
Cody
7 years 3 months ago

Sage advice Mike for Dave and I’m 100% in agreement. That’s why i gave up CF, it set’s you up for over training. But even though I’ve moved on from CF, I still have a hard time not over training. Trying to find the right balance. It’s tough for sure, as excercise get’s those endorphins moving, it’s hard to realize less is better!

David
David
7 years 3 months ago

Thanks! I use Crossfit’s 3 days on 1 day off workout cycle. I’ve gained only 1 lb. but have cut back on the intensity due to tendinitis in one elbow and, recently. a pulled quad from walking lunges! Could cutting back on the intensity of the workout due to my injuries cause an increase in body fat?

Robert Gioia
Robert Gioia
7 years 3 months ago

Happens to me all the time – but I monitor it at home and its fine. I’m 8% BF as well.

rachel allen
rachel allen
7 years 3 months ago

had to comment on this one. all my overweight life ive been 140/90 range. most of those years that was considered borderline. as in “lets keep a wary eye on this”.

now 180/120 is borderline.

since dropping lots of fat/girth with paleo type IFing, i havent checked my b.p. just checking it raises my numbers. educating post!

Halle
Halle
7 years 3 months ago
Ditto all the comments on having the correct size cuff. My armspan is 74″, I am 5’6″. My arms are large and muscular (for a woman) but since my arms are so long — they don’t LOOK overly large. But they really are large enough to need to large size cuff. I have to carry around a tape measure in my purse to prove this. My husband’s arms are very muscular — he needs to ask for the thigh cuff. If he doesn’t have it taken with the thigh cuff, they freak out because it seems so high. Make sure… Read more »
Jim
Jim
7 years 3 months ago

The next time you go in try having realations with your wife before hand and avoid coffee and such.

My beef is I have bigger arms and if they use the right size cuff I am much healthier.

Greg at Live Fit
7 years 3 months ago

These things are best taken as averages across a large time period, as you did. Unfortunately, the truth is that most people won’t take the time to monitor thwie health that closely.

Rodney
Rodney
7 years 3 months ago
Consider magnesium deficiency if you have high blood pressure. With the poor quality of our soils these days many people are deficient. It takes awhile to get your body stores replenished but it can help. Guess what they give you through an iv in a hospital if your blood pressure is critically high. Magnesium! Taking pills is a slower but equally effective way to replenish. Not a cure all for everyone, but worth a consideration. There is no good way to measure it in the blood though, so be wary if someone tries to sell you on a blood test.
Theresa
Theresa
7 years 3 months ago

Great article! I also bought the Omron machine a few years ago. I had tested my BP at a couple of grocery stores, and was getting numbers anywhere from 152/100 to 110/65. Testing at home, I came up with an average of about 114/70 HR 60 – the same as it has been for the last 20 years. Moral to the story: Don’t trust that one time at the doctor’s office, and don’t use the BP machines at the store!

Sonagi
Sonagi
7 years 3 months ago

I had one BP reading of 110/100. Is this number even possible?

Kristina
Kristina
6 years 10 months ago

Ya it is, and it’s not good. Heart failure… get it check out

SCB
SCB
7 years 3 months ago

Mark…I think you should have another doctor check the thingy on your arm.

glmd
glmd
7 years 3 months ago
I have been lurking on this site for a year now & have avidly read everything that Mark has put out. I thank him for his tireless questions & especially for his book which I finished this past weekend. I agree with everything in it and wish that more people would subscribe to even a small percentage of what he recommends. I am writing into this forum because I am one of those “health practitioners” that everyone seems to be demonising in the current posts. Mark has taken a very sensible approach to this situation & I applaud his random… Read more »
Jeff
Jeff
7 years 3 months ago

What a great response. Everyone read it.

Candace
Candace
7 years 3 months ago
With all the lousy side effects from those stupid drugs, people would probably be better off living with chronic high blood pressure anyway. And like you say, most people who’ve been diagnosed with it don’t even have it… AND the medical establishment has pushed down the “healthy” levels over time which makes it even more ridiculous and pointless to base such a serious diagnosis on only a small number of tests. My paternal grandmother probably had BP through the roof… she was always worrying and fretting about something or other. On the other hand she ate things like codfish heads… Read more »
Shary
Shary
4 years 3 months ago

I’ve known people like your grandmother, who should have been dead at 50 and then prove everybody wrong by making to 90. The medical profession needs to understand that people are more than just numbers.

Milemom
Milemom
7 years 3 months ago
I agreee with everyone here, BUT… maybe Mark does have a bp problem inspite of his great diet? My bp is nearly always 90/60 ish… even when I had to wait for ever in a waiting room with all my children. Once, when very pregnant and under much stress, it went up to 120/80. Not saying meds are the answer… just that there may be a problem. Conversely, we have naturally high cholesterol in my family, despite being normal weight and active. I have recently stopped taking my statin and will monitor my status (via diet improvement)…but my mom had… Read more »
SerialSinner
SerialSinner
7 years 3 months ago

Mark I think the massive amount of comments is a testament of how much we value your life.

I have the highest respect for the medical profession. But I am also aware of it’s limitations.

In some cases, expecting a Doctor to question standard procedures is equal to asking a car mechanic about thermodynamics.

Medicine is, for the most part, empirical.

Licarrit
Licarrit
7 years 3 months ago

It is a dirty little secret of the medical community that very few drs. or nurses take accurate BP. That is why many offices and hospitals have moved to the automated machines -which suck too btw! The other thing to be very wary of is the size of the cuff that they use. Use the standard cuff on someone with large-ish biceps and you get a much higher #. I almost bought myself BP meds that way as I am a short woman with thick arms! Grok would have thought I was hot!

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