A question we get asked frequently at YourPressure, is what’s to be done about people who have “spikes” in their blood pressure.
The problem is that at the moment, there isn’t a good answer to that question.
Here’s the issue.
We know that it is normal for people to have variation in their blood pressure. That’s how blood pressure works. When you’re sat still and relaxed, you don’t need higher blood pressure because your body isnt doing that much work. When you’re active, you do need higher blood pressure in order to make sure that all the blood gets to your various muscles and organs in your body.
So if your blood pressure didn’t vary at all, you’d be at risk of fainting every time you stood up, because you wouldn’t have enough blood going to your brain.
The second thing that we know, is that from people who’ve had 24 hour blood pressure monitors strapped to them, the ones who have the greatest variation in blood pressure are the ones at greatest risk of developing diseases such as heart attack and stroke.
So then, it should be simple. All those of us who get varied blood pressure readings should be on medication then?
Well, unfortunately not.
This is for two reasons.
The first is that because home monitors are a relatively new invention, we don’t know what is a “normal” amount of variability in blood pressure when you’re using home readings. In simple terms, we don’t really know at what level normal blood pressure variation becomes a “spike”.
The second is that, currently, we don’t have any good evidence as to what an effective treatment for blood pressure “spikes” is. Remember how earlier on I said that if we removed all variability from your blood pressure then you’d be at risk of fainting when you stand up? This is a very real risk of trying to use treatment to prevent blood pressure “spikes”.
In the UK, blood pressure treatment is based around your average resting blood pressure. This is deliberately to remove the effect of “spikes” and to prevent over-diagnosis and over-treatment. These are where people are unnecessarily diagnosed with high blood pressure and put on treatment due to a few high readings, when in fact, most of the time their blood pressure is ok. Putting people on too much or unnecessary treatment increases their risk of getting side effects.
Have you been diagnosed with blood pressure “spikes”? Did it worry you? If so, please let us know in the comments.
Here at YourPressure, we’re trying to prevent that happening. We think that there’s a simple solution to this. Get you, the people who are most interested in getting an accurate measurement, to take your own measurement. Give you coaching as to how to get an accurate measurement at home. Then give you the information that you need to have an informed discussion with your nurse or GP about your blood pressure treatment.
Please contact us if you would like to use our service.