Got my blood pressure taken today. And I got a flu shot. The flu shot was painless, but the whole blood pressure thing is starting to bug me.
You see, I used to have low blood pressure. Like every time it was taken (in my 20's and 30's), the nurse would say "Whoa, that's low!" I'd ask if that was a bad thing. She'd say, "No, low is good!" I never kept track of the numbers, but I also never worried about my blood pressure.
Then somewhere in my late 40's when I got my blood pressure taken I started being told, "It's okay". Somewhere in my 50's I started be told that it wasn't "high", but I should work on bringing it down. I still didn't keep close track, but I do remember a few times hearing a systolic number in the neighborhood of 140. But still I never worried.
The past couple of times I've gone in for a physical, I've been told that my blood pressure is elevated. And once, a doctor suggested HBP medicine. Not one to easily take medicine I declined and bargained for time to get it under control. Honesty, though, except for being told to exercise and cut down on salt, I don't recall getting any good information about blood pressure and how important the numbers may be. I do recall this year, though, being told that the guidelines had changed, so my HBP reading wasn't because anything had changed on my end, it was that the guidelines had changed.
That didn't seem very fair to me...
But this year, I'm finally paying attention. To read more. To try to understand the whole thing better. There's a lot of information on the web, but still I confess, I'm confused about whether or not I truly have high blood pressure. I'm not worried confused. Just a bit confused.
This was my reading today:
Not stellar, but it doesn't scare me, either - even though according to today's standards, it's definitely not good enough. Nevermind that according to this article in 2013, it wasn't just good enough, it was pretty good (especially for a 59 year-old). Today, the same website (Harvard Medical School) tells me it's elevated, and my diastolic number may actually put me into hypertension. There's no margin of grace for aging anymore. So much for aging gracefully.
I know guidelines change and science shows us stuff we didn't know before, but I'm not real happy about suddenly having the target moved on me this year. And at a time when it's harder and harder to muster what it takes to hit the target. Did I already mention it seems unfair?
What I do know is that when I exercise regularly (walking is my main form of exercise) my BP is good. For most of the spring and early summer (when I was walking regularly) both numbers were below the recommended 120/80. Had the nurse at my doctor's office taken it during that time I probably would have gotten a "Whoa! That's low!"
What I have been doing since my last doctor's appointment earlier this year is keeping track. When I go into Meijer (and sometimes Kroger) I sit down at the self-serve machine and take my BP. When it improved with my walking regimen, I wanted to be able to prove to them that I can do what I need to do to keep it low.
For now, getting myself back in the walking habit will surely bring it back down, so that and losing some weight (through healthier eating) will be my focus. Keeping my focus will also be my focus. It's so easy to lose sight of the target.
It's even harder when the target moves...