Monday, July 9, 2012

Know your numbers: BP

Salam. I'm sorry for the lack of consistent updates. It's just that my hubby was faced with a family misfortune thus requiring alot of our time away. but thankfully all now is well alhamdulillah.

I remembered promising to write on health stuff. So i thought of sharing the basics on understanding your blood pressure.

Hah? Senangnyer lar topic! Trust me. It is. But you would be surprise at the amount of people who actually 'cares' about this thing. Trust me. I worked in a goverment community clinic. Majority of us are either clueless or couldn't care less. So hopefully by sharing this, you would be more.. Err... 'caring'. Towards your own body of course. Unless you 'care less' about yourself too, then this article is not for you.

So. When u go to see the doctor, for fun or for his actual help, you'll be very well accustomed to the fact that he or the nurse will take your blood pressure (BP). And he'll rant a number (mebbe not) and either gives you a look (varies from shock to the legendary The Rock's eyebrow lift) or his face will remain completely flat. And most of the time he might not say anything and just keeps on writing as if you're not even there. But if he happens to say something, the poor kind lad might not have the time to explain what those numbers mean. Instead he'll just say "this means you're ok". And u would walk out, still clueless or care-less of this BP info, but happy with the "lack of information on your health" result.

Common kan? Hehe. So now i'm here to tell you what it means.

Your blood can pressure too!

Like all things with weight, your blood (5 litres of them in your body) can too give pressure. And since they're circulating like currents from a pumping centre (the heart), the velocity and force is maintained and controlled at a desirable limit. So what controls this? Yes the heart. So measuring your BP is more of measuring your heart's function in circulating your blood. The optimal pressure of a looonnngg, healthy, around-the-clock working heart to keep you alive, ranges from 100/60mmHg to below 140/90mmHg. This range exists because women and men exists. Big and small-built people exists. Young and old people exists. And of course, sick people exists. So it's not fair (in my opinion) to keep one number of 120/80mmHg as being the best. Its uniquely individual. Like all things health-related. So overall health status needs to be assessed too.

So top number is termed "systolic" pressure. This means it measures the pressure when your arterial wall is pushed by the blood 'ejected' from the heart. The bottom number is called "diastolic" pressure. This is when the heart is at the 'resting' stage. Ok ok. Technically, the heart memang don't rest, but the rest reflects to the relaxation of the muscle to fill up more blood so that it can propel them again. And this relaxation is like a fraction of a second. Which is still considered resting. And no. Its not like how you rest like a couch potato for about 5 hours.

So since we are all aware at how precious our heart is and we looooooveee to take care of it. Except during parties, buffets, on working days and weekends. Why? Because we strain  it in those "frequent" occasions. In a bad way of course. How? Its pretty obvious really. But i'm more interested to share the mechanics.

Lets take one. Food. Not all food lar. The culprit. The one that aims to 'stick' with you and won't let go. And its eveeeerryyyywhereee!!!! Yeap. Fat. Cholesterol. More specifically bad cholesterol (haa! got good and bad cholesterol u know!). Sadly, as delicious as cholesterol may be, and you love him as your best friend, this friend ain't a good one to be together with regularly. It will stick to u like nobody's business. In fact it loooovvees sticking inside you. On your blood vessel's walls. The notorious places would be close to your heart for the lovvvvee and in your brains for the loving memoriessss!!

So here's what happens. The digested and absorbed cholesterol will add to the viscosity of your blood while waiting to be sent to your flabby arms, thighs and tummy for storage. But because there's too many of them, your blood gets thicker. So it will start to slow down (figuratively speaking). Imagine a bus, jam packed with people. It will move slower because it's heavy. So the driver will have to unload some ppl in the middle of their destination. So they're stuck there. Considering the next bus is also filled like a can of sardines. So that bus will unload at the same stop too. So now the undesignated bus stop will be filled with people in the end.

So now imagine your blood as the bus and your blood vessel as a tunneled road. Supposedly your blood be carrying your cholesterol to its destination. But there's too many of them and too heavy to move with the normal speed, it spills some on the vessel. And the next trip does the same. Now the interesting thing about bad cholesterol is, that they attract one another. So instead of being spilled throughout the blood vessels in your body (like a yellow brick road!), it is instead pulled like a magnet to one another. So imagine it building up and then slowly closing and clogging your blood vessel tube!

we call this atherosclerosis.

And  one of the famous organs this takes place in is the heart! So when the heart itself gets less or no blood supply to its muscles to do its job, it will compensate by thinking, 'hey there's not enough nutrients sent to me. I must pump more! Or else im gonna stop pumping!". ok. the heart don't speak  alrite. but if it can, it sure would have yelled more wicked stuff instead!

Thus, the poor thing will pump faster and harder, and will get more tired because of having to reset to that new speed and workload in order to get nutrients. It's like torturing a lab rat that if he wants to drink he must turn the wheel to get water poured for him. And soon he'll get tired and ever more thirsty from all the walking/running. It's one vicious cycle i tell you.

Tragic. But that is what happens when you do it to your own heart. Sounds more sedih when using the rat story but remember, your heart is a living thing too. (Duh!) It can't cry like the rat. But it can definitely give you your final cry.

So that's how the BP can be raised. And that is what it means when you're told to have a high BP. Your heart has to work his butt off just to keep you alive! And yes, it's a good thing (whether you like it or not) that a doctor harrasses you or 'membebel' relentlessly when your BP readings are undesirable. If you don't get that, chances are he is too bored to give a reaction. For he too, couldn't care-less to a patient that don't give a damn about himself in the first place.

So love your heart. Know your numbers (BP readings not your stats!). And read more to know what can contribute to raising your BP. 

All the best.

My son is calling me. gtg.

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