The next morning, my son sent me an email with a link to a report with this headline:
High blood pressure: New research suggests that see-sawing readings are the key danger sign for strokes.Needless to say, that got my attention! I immediately opened on the link.
The report is based on work by Professor Peter Rothwell, director of the Oxford Stroke Prevention Research Unit in England.
What Matters are the Blood Pressure Variations
- Look at the systolic (upper) number. It is not unusual for this to vary by up to 60 from one hour to next during the day. This is normally nothing to worry about.
- It’s also normal for readings taken once a day or once a week (at the same time) to vary by about 20.
- However, with variable blood pressure, the readings taken once a day or once a week are likely to vary by 50 or more. People with variable blood pressure show wide fluctuations daily, weekly, and monthly.
1) Spikes in blood pressure that coincide with the wearing off of my carbidopa/levadopa medication. Before a new pill kicks in, my systolic reading can hit 200 or above. The only solution -- based on my present meds -- is to take another pill. As a result, the new, shrinking interval between pills is about three hours. The new schedule results in seven or eight "swings" a day. For example, my numbers this morning:
- 7:00 -- 189/113 (then I took two 25/100 pills)
- 7:15 -- 175/99
- 7:30 -- 145/94
This is the regular pattern as old pills wear off and new pills kick in.2) Drops in blood pressure when that top number falls below 100. During these times, I feel faint, sometimes like I might even pass out. Those symptoms resemble the effects of orthostatic hypotension, low bp that typically occurs when someone rises from a chair. But that's not what causes my wooziness. Instead, I experience the sudden bp drops when I'm outside in hot, humid weather... although the scary symptoms have occurred at other times, too.
So, What Do I Do?
A good question, and I don't have an answer. But I've begun some interesting talks with my neurologist and blood pressure specialist. Stay tuned.