We all know about dangers of hypertension, however recent studies have pointed out that it is actually pressure fluctuations, not just high blood pressure, that is most ominous. It is no longer just hypertension as previously thought, but erratic blood pressure that causes most of the cardiovascular accidents. Strokes, heart attacks, shortness of breath, sudden weakness, and falls can be traced back to excessive cardiovascular swings.
Cardiovascular statistics in developed countries are not favorable. Heart disease is the number one cause of death in North America. And since one third of all adults have hypertension we only can ponder how many people actually “suffer from” the bigger danger, circulatory ups and downs.
The answer is surprising, but hopefully not scary. Fluctuating blood pressure is common to ALL of us. We all have it regardless whether we are actively looking for it or not. Yet I must clarify. It is not just any fluctuations, but erratic fluctuations that should concern us. So, although we all experience fluctuations we first must distinguish the good from the bad or, to be more exact, the erratic from the normal. Only then we can make any conclusions about our heart health.
Healthy circulation is dynamic and intelligently responsive. It changes according to time of the day and adjusts to different circumstances. For example, healthy blood pressure goes up during exercise and then down during sleep. It goes up during laughter and down again during meditation.
Healthy heart should never keep the numbers at 120/80 mmHg. Blood pressure that does not change is a sign of a seriously compromised circulation. In fact, the numbers should swing effortlessly from hypertension to hypotension if life demands it. Here are just two examples.
- It is normal to get into the hypertensive zone when lifting heavy objects
- It is normal for healthy people to go into hypotensive zone overnight.
However, not all fluctuations are good. Some are a sign of compromised health. Here are just a few examples of such:
- The numbers drop on standing; in a healthy body they should go up when one stands up
- One has white coat syndrome; this indicates difficulty coping with stress and increases chances of developing hypertension in the future
- The numbers keep low during the day; this may substantially increase dementia risk; hypotension has many negative long-term effects including hearing loss, glaucoma, depression, and anxiety.
We are being told to measure blood pressure while sitting, but by the time we find something wrong with the numbers at rest, we have likely missed at least a decade of circulatory problems. With heart diseases being so widespread it would be foolish not to know own heart details in advance.
Don’t count on your doctor to give you an early warning. It will not happen. The term “erratic blood pressure” has not been entered in a medical dictionary as of yet. And as it is with every “just discovered” phenomenon, early detection of such is near impossible. Today when health care practitioners are looking mostly for hypertension, fluctuating blood pressure is left unnoticed.