I’m kind of intense. (You know who else who is “intense?” Campers…..but I digress).
I’ve always had high blood pressure, and despite a plant-based diet, reduced sugars and alcohol, the last trip to the oncologist a couple of weeks ago revealed another blood pressure test of 140-something over 90-something.
We all know that 120/80 is normal, but before we go any further, what do those numbers mean, anyway?
Well, first of all, blood “pressure” is literally a measurement of how much pressure is being exerted on the blood vessels of your arteries. Usually, the measurement is conducted of the brachial artery in your upper arm. The more pressure, the more likely those arteries will begin to wear out or burst–and that’s bad. So, lower pressure is better than high pressure, (except of course when it’s too low. That usually means either you’re bleeding out, or your heart isn’t pumping well–or at all).
And about those numbers?
The high number is called the systolic pressure, and the lower number is called the diastolic pressure. Systolic pressure is the pressure exerted when the heart pumps the blood out through the arteries. Diastolic pressure is the pressure the blood exerts when it’s sucked back into the heart.
I’ve always been told that high diastolic pressure was worse than high systolic pressure, but I’m not sure why because high systolic pressure is a leading indicator of brain, heart, kidney and circulatory complications–all of which can, of course, lead to death. High diastolic pressure is a indicator of potential heart attack and/or stroke. So when my doctor is suggesting the lower number is what concerns him, it’s because that appears to be a risk factor for “sudden” death, whereas a high systolic pressure is more of a long-term issue.
So, without further ado, here’s the story on my own blood pressure.
Two weeks ago, my blood pressure at the doctor’s office was 145/92.
After about a week and a half of HIT training (remember, this is all of 1 minute a day, or 3 minutes a week); my blood pressure was 132/80.
Couple of caveats:
I may suffer from “white lab coat syndrome,” meaning I get nervous when I’m in a doctor’s office, particularly an oncologist, so that may account for my high BP. (Although we tested it twice at the doctor’s office and it went still higher the second time around). Today’s test was at the local pharmacy using an automated machine. Now you may think that could give a false reading, but the fact is that those machines at the drug store typically give me a still higher reading than at the doctor’s office. According to my GP, the machines at the pharmacy are built for older (smaller) individuals. People who are “muscular” as he called me (i.e., a nice way of saying overweight); tend to read much higher as the cuff on the machine starts snug. All I know, is except for when I was bleeding to death as a result of a stomach cancer ulceration and was rushed to the hospital…this is the lowest blood pressure reading I can remember–or at least in the past 10 years. (I really never paid any attention to my blood pressure before that).
So can I really credit HIT exercise for lowering my BP so fast? Not scientifically, but the results certainly are consistent with the science supporting HIT exercise.
Also consistent with this science is the fact that despite a lower BP, higher aerobic function, and presumably lower blood glucose levels (which I have not tested), I haven’t lost significant weight, yet.
Vitals: Weight 214; Blood Pressure: 130/82