Myths about blood pressure, heart rate, debunked

Continued from last week...

Low blood pressure can be a bit trickier, especially in older patients and those with heart diseases. If you are in danger from low blood pressure, your body will tell you. It is really about how you feel. Are you dragging and feeling weak? The numbers on their own don’t tell the story; it is the numbers paired with how you are feeling and what symptoms you have.

High blood pressure or heart rate is more likely to be dangerous

True: Again, ‘normal’ varies. But, experts have enough clinical evidence to suggest that when blood pressure is even a little over your typical average over time, the risk of heart disease and stroke is high. The physical effects of high blood pressure take their toll on your blood vessels.

Elevated heart rate can be a sign of danger, too, but the cause-effect relationship is not so clear. Studies show that people who run faster heart rate are more likely to have cardiac problems and premature cardiac death. But, experts are not sure whether that is the cause of the problem or just a sign of what is going on.

When you measure matters
True: To measure your resting heart rate and blood pressure, pick a time when you’re feeling relaxed, experts have advised. Randomly sampling both measures throughout the day can also help you reach an average. Do not take your readings right after exercising – unless you are trying to establish a baseline for ‘active’ blood pressure and heart rate.

Which measure is more important depends on your health, too. For patients with atrial fibrillation, heart rate might be more important to watch, but many other heart diseases depend more on blood pressure. To be safe, measure both.

Almost all automated kits you buy at a drug store are going to give you blood pressure and pulse on the same readout, according to experts. It is convenient – and there is really no reason not to stay on top of both.

This story was published in Newswatch Times on April 4,  2015.


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