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Prognosis negative: When lowering your blood pressure’s not good all of a sudden

New high blood pressure guidelines mean 30 million more Americans have hypertension

Under the new guidelines, the number of adults with high blood pressure will rise to 103 million from 72 million. Hypertension is the leading cause of heart disease and heart-related deaths in the U.S. and worldwide.
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Under the new guidelines, the number of adults with high blood pressure will rise to 103 million from 72 million. Hypertension is the leading cause of heart disease and heart-related deaths in the U.S. and worldwide.

A time will come when you have nothing left to say.

That’s what I thought, the other day, sitting in a hearing in Columbus Recorder’s Court, sweating like a sow in a sauna, dizzy, struggling to concentrate.

I assumed this was the result of having lain awake all night, my heart racing, and those were just symptoms of stress and high blood pressure.

But maybe not. I Googled the symptoms on my iPad. Some matched a heart attack, but of course online health searches often say you’re going to die, when you type in symptoms. (Q: What is this rash? A: Melanoma; Q: Why does my gut ache? A: Tumor; Q: What’s this spot on my leg? A: Gangrene.)

I considered getting up and going outside, where the paramedics could find me without pushing through the crowded courtroom. But I was sitting directly between the TV cameras in the rear of the room and the suspect facing the judge up front.

Were I abruptly to stand, I might pass out, on camera.

That would not make the nightly news, usually, but you never know. It could be “a related note”: “On a related note, cramped conditions in Columbus Recorder’s Court were evident again when an old bald man dropped like a dead tree in the wind.”

I pulled out a bandana and mopped sweat until it was as soaked as a … drunk skinny-dipper stuck in a backwater inner tube. Then later I went home, got out the drugstore blood-pressure monitor and saw that my blood pressure was as low as … a midget race car on a six-lane parkway.

“Well, at least I don’t have high blood pressure anymore,” I thought.

Prognosis negative

Did you know that if you become dehydrated while taking two drugs for high blood pressure, your blood pressure can drop so low your heart races to pump oxygen to your brain, but falls as short as … a toddler’s free throw at a regulation basketball goal?

I did not know that, until the doctor said so, and changed my prescription, and told me to drink at least three liters of water a day.

She was very kind, as were all the other medical professionals I encountered. Still in my fit of high or low blood pressure, I thought: “First of all, what the @#$% is a ‘liter’? And second, you can’t sneak three liters of water past a city security checkpoint, you know.”

Speaking of things that alert security, for two days I had to wear a portable heart monitor around my neck and under my polo shirt, and it set off the metal detector at all the courtroom security checkpoints I go through, so I had to explain that. A bulge under your polo shirt is a little suspicious, you know, considering you never play polo.

It looked like I was wearing a bomb, or had a beer gut, or an oddly cubic hernia. And it totally ruined the effect of having lost 15 pounds in just a few weeks, which for some reason also alarms the healthcare industry in a manner akin to no longer having high blood pressure.

Along with the heart monitor, I was given a diary in which to note when my heart started racing, were I exercising, or under some other stress.

The folded diary was about the size of a Hallmark greeting card.

The nurse handed it to me with a document to sign acknowledging I was responsible for the $1,700 heart monitor, which could not get wet nor be disconnected from my torso for 48 hours.

So I could not shower for two days, and had to sleep (or not) with a machine attached to me.

I looked at the postcard stress diary and thought, “I could fill this out now and turn it in now.”

What a drag it is getting old.

I’m sorry. Am I boring you? Is this too much information? Are you not interested in my health issues? That’s what they tell me when I visit the assisted living facility. (“You worry too much,” they say.)

So anyway, if you’re experiencing “hypertension,” or you suddenly are not, you should go to the drugstore and get one of those electronic cuffs that automatically measures your blood pressure, and check it regularly, to make sure the machine’s still working.

Don’t get it wet, while you’re drinking three liters of water a day, because insurance doesn’t cover that.

That’s all I have left to say.

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