The last year spun round at a frenetic pace. It seems like only a few days ago that we were welcoming in 2022. A year when we hoped things would stabilise and we could get on with our lives in the knowledge that the worst was behind us. I don't need to go through the many gloomy outcomes, which we have all had to experience and suffer from over the year, however, 45 days is a modern day record of sorts. I suspect it will perhaps become shorthand for incompetence.
Christmas is a traditional time for the blood pressure of those around me going into overdrive. My own was a wee bit high when I had it tested in early December and as a consequence my intake of water, fruit, nuts and vegetables has been increasing exponentially since. Added to my limiting coffee intake of decaf, I am now drinking a product I only learned of recently: decaffeinated coke zero. I understand it has all the taste of the original but is better for you.
I was invited to join a heart risk research project. Given that it offered a bit of an MOT, with the added possibility of a heart scan, how could I say no? The problems started when the rather nervous project nurse attempted to take my bloods and after giving up on being able to find a vein near the surface of either arm, requested a colleague instead take over. Two glasses of water down, the offending object was found and the blood was extracted.
Feeling like I had been through the wars, we turned to blood pressure. I saw the number, then her face, then the number again, and she spoke. It's a bit high she advised, but probably down to white coat syndrome. You are in a stressful situation, so naturally your blood pressure is up. We can do it again at the end.
We completed the rest of the examination: height, weight and lifestyle questionnaire. I was disappointed that there was nowhere in the study to highlight my prolific walking, currently sitting at 9-10 miles a day on average, but mentioned it to the nurse anyway. We all need affirmation at some point.
Towards the end of the appointment my blood pressure was re-tested – it was again in excess of the expected level. The nurse suggested I contact my GP to have it checked again. My intention was to make said appointment with my doctor after Christmas. Since then, however, I have been thinking about it constantly and expect I will be suffering from white coat syndrome on steroids when I go. I may never know for sure.
Update: I have now received a summary report from the project, confirming the advice from the nurse and informing me that I am on the cusp of a risk figure. It suggests that I come into the surgery to talk over potentially starting a course of medication. However, though the report concludes with this percentage risk figure, which is based presumably on metrics around the various findings, it feels very light on detail as to why they reached their conclusion. In effect, I am heading to the doctor's appointment in possession of very little information on which to make an informed decision.
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