Karin & David Henderson

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Maple Ridge, B.C.

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Prevent Blood Pressure Pitfalls - There Can Be A Link Between Meniere's Disease and High Blood Pressure.

Blood, Its Circulation And Blood Pressure


Did you know you can stop and check your blood pressure when you shop for groceries? You may not want to, but the opportunity is available in stores that provide pharmacies. And why would you want to do that? Why should you be interested in something called " blood pressure"? Or "the pressure of blood"??? I receive emails from many people suffering with Meniere's disease. In the course of a conversation, I may ask what their blood pressure is. I will get answers like "it's fine", or "it's perfect" or "the doctor says it's excellent". Few people can give me actual numbers. Later when you might suspect something is not quite right, you have nothing to compare it to. You need to know and understand the actual readings: the upper (systolic) reading and the lower (diastolic) one.

As always, with these articles, please don't use them to diagnose or treat yourself. Use the information to educate yourself. If you recognize something familiar, please get it checked out by a qualified health care provider. More knowledge will help you ask better questions.

So let's explore what blood is, how it gets moved around your body, and how blood pressure relates to it. I'll share the importance of your blood's "mission" and "function" in your body.

But before we get too far, we need to understand some medical terms. It will help you see why you need to know something more than just being told "it's perfect". (I'll also tell you why your blood doesn't stay in your legs forever if you stand a lot.) We'll explore the blood's different ingredients and why they are needed...and how to have them ready in your body. You may have decided it's time to take control of your health. Blood is the major body "ingredient" that keeps you alive.

When you are at the scene of an accident, what is one of the first things that paramedics do? They take a "blood pressure". That's an indication of its importance. Lastly I would like to tell you why donating blood is a good thing for most people: why
you might want to share it with someone who is struggling to stay alive.

Let's start with blood and what it is... As you will see shortly, blood has a crucial and very specific purpose. If something is abnormal, the fulfillment of its purpose is interrupted or changed. Your blood's mission is to keep you alive and well. Its purpose is to provide you with nutrients, oxygen, and chemicals, and to remove waste products. Blood is a liquid made up of several parts including red blood cells
(erythrocytes), white blood cells (leukocytes), and platelets (thrombocytes). It carries these nutrients, chemicals and oxygen.

"Hemoglobin" is the red pigment in red blood cells. It transports oxygen. It is the most important part of the blood. Red blood cells are known as "Erythrocytes" in medical
terminology. Their purpose is to carry oxygen and a small amount of carbon dioxide. Blood that carries oxygen is called oxygenated blood. Without oxygen, your body cannot live. White blood cells are known as leukocytes. And there are several types
including granulocytes, lymphocytes, and monocytes. Leukocytes are meant to fight infections. They are part of the inflammatory process, which is part of your body's immune system. Leukocytes are responsible for the elimination of bacteria, fungi, and
viruses. Platelets (thrombocytes) are part of a cell and are responsible for blood clotting.

Red blood cells that are filled with oxygen are known "collectively" as "oxygenated blood". It is bright red. De-oxygenated" blood (oxygen removed) will look darker compared to oxygenated blood. When it shows up in the skin, it is called cyanosis. In a trauma, it is fairly easy to see if an artery or vein is cut by the colour of the blood and the pressure with which it shows up. An artery will spurt bright red blood, while a vein produces dark slower moving blood. Serum or plasma is what is left after the "solids" are removed.

Nutrients include all that is necessary for the cell to function efficiently. They come from foods you eat, and are digested and metabolized (changed) into a usable form. The chemicals also come from foods (including water) and are also critical to your well being. They provide the critical balance your body needs. Altogether, nutrients, oxygen, and chemicals are taken to the cells, and waste products are removed. Each blood component has a vital function. When these functions can't be fulfilled, an imbalance can occur. And the body craves balance.

If you recall previous articles, the body has nine systems such as the digestive system, the reproductive system, the endocrine system, and six more. Each one is different and has a distinct purpose. But all are made up of individual cells. And these cells perform different functions depending on the system's responsibility. However they all essentially require the same nutrients, chemicals, and oxygen. What YOU won't know is what the cells needs, but your body does. And it knows what it requires will keep it balanced and complete. So you don't need to eat to fill your kidneys' requirements, or your nervous system's needs. Eat a meal that is balanced (and that is a difficult concept to get across to people in this day of diets!)

Blood is meant to be in predetermined areas (contained in its transportation systems) and not in other areas. By that I mean blood floes naturally in your nose, but a nosebleed needs to be investigated. And blood in your urine must not be ignored. That
is outside its natural boundaries, which include the kidneys and your bladder.

When blood shows up in unusual places something is wrong and needs to be investigated. Because it circulates all through your body, any abnormality or infection can easily be carried along with it. Blood without boundaries is simply fluid. It needs to be contained in some form and sent all over your body, systematically and consistently. This means a network of passageways. This network is called the circulatory system. It provides the means for the blood's "mission" to be fulfilled. All this starts at birth and ends in death. There is no normal part of you that is without a blood supply, but there may be some areas after a trauma that won't receive any "service". No blood: no life. But that doesn't mean all of you dies. It may mean just a part does. Your body is very organized and in order to maintain balance, it will "borrow" from one cell to another. (Balance/ homeostasis)

Just as you don't carry clean and dirty laundry together, blood doesn't get carried in the same vessels. There are two "one way" passages: arteries and veins. Just like a river or a tunnel, something has to allow the entire set of ingredients to reach the end of the line, intact. A healthy passageway or "lumen" is clean, smooth and has no debris attached to it anywhere along the walls. The fluid is propelled along without any interruptions or blockages. The walls are elastic and move in a rhythmic pattern, consistently.

Arteries, veins, and the circulatory system are the transportation corridor or system that blood circulates through. "Arterial" blood is blood that has just been cleaned and is full of good things such as these nutrients, chemicals, and oxygen. (Transported by the arteries) comes from the lungs, with a fresh load of oxygen, and stops along the way to pick up chemicals and nutrients. These nine "body" systems are all served or connected to this lifeline. The arteries get smaller and smaller as they branch out more and more to cover the entire body. Eventually they drop their life-giving load to the tiniest cell.

In the individual cells, the oxygen and the nutrients and chemicals are dropped off. A return network (venous circulation: oxygen removed) will pick up the waste products that are created through "metabolism". It is a much more relaxed or passive system and needs the help of valves to keep the blood from flowing back to the extremities. That's why the blood doesn't stay in your feet if you stand up a lot...or pool in your backside if you sit a lot.) Metabolism encompasses all the physical and chemical processes within the body that create and use energy, such as digesting food and nutrients, eliminating waste, breathing, circulating blood, temperature regulation.

is the pressure of the blood pushing against the walls of the arteries. It's like a garden hose. If there is only a trickle, it can't perform much. If it's too fast, it can blow a hole in the wall of the vessel (tube). And it can blow through debris that might form clots. It's usually lowest in the morning as you have been resting all night. As the day progresses, it gets higher. If you have to monitor it, choose roughly the same time each day and the same machine and the same clothing. Rest a few minutes when you get to the machine. Do not compare readings from mornings to afternoons, or machine to machine, especially digital and mercury ones.

There are two readings: the first (opening or top) reading is the "systolic". It is the pressure of the blood when the heart muscle contracts and presses against the artery wall. The second, lower, "diastolic" is the reading when the heart rests between heartbeats. Normal values are a systolic of 110 to 130 and diastolic of between 60 to 80. Over the length of my nursing career, I have witnessed many changes in the interpretation of blood pressure values and readings. Some did not make much sense to me. If this might be a problem for you, do your own research.

Let's look at some of the problems created by "abnormal blood or blood pressure". The individual cell needs oxygen, nutrients, and chemicals. And all cell needs are pretty much alike. It is the cell's tissue of the nine body systems that determines the cell's purpose and its activities. So it follows that if any of the blood's components are missing for any reason, the cell will be incomplete and can't do its assignment.

Can you see then that a problems with inadequate amounts of these requirements leaves vital life supporting help unfulfilled?

Problems with blood or the lack of it can arise in several ways. By now you know the importance of blood and its components. We may only see the red liquid, but it carries vital cargo! Problems can arise with a) the blood itself as in anemia, cancer, or debris such as potential clots b) with the condition of the corridors system major trauma, leaks (aneurysms) or wall build ups c) blood components, not being available in adequate amounts d) end cell (recipient) not being able to handle the blood as it already has too many waste products, or the components not being there, or the cell too weak from inadequate nutrients chemicals and oxygen There are other situations, but these fit into what we are learning here.

Anemia is a condition in which there is a reduction in oxygen cell delivery to the tissues. This is due to a reduction in the number of red cells throughout the body: not just in one area. It may result from increased destruction of red cells, excessive blood loss or decreased production of red cells.  There are many types and potential causes of anemia. 

Another health condition could be cancers in the form of leukemia where you can have too many white blood cells and too few platelets (for clotting) and red blood cells for carrying oxygen. So you can see how a person could easily be tired (not enough oxygen). They could have many infections, an imbalance in white blood cells and red blood cells and could bleed more easily. (Platelets missing.)

As mentioned earlier, hemoglobin is the most important component of red blood cells. It is a protein that carries oxygen from the lungs to the body's tissues, and carbon dioxide from the tissues to the lungs to be exhaled (waste products). Abnormalities of an individual's hemoglobin can effect red blood cell balance, which in turn can effect many body functions, including energy levels. Both low and high values can indicate unhealthy states. It's always about balance. But think of it, if you can't get enough oxygen being carried to your cells, you will be really depleted in energy and that affects all you do or are motivated to do. And this is what blood pressure is all about. It pushes blood throughout the body with regular beats or contractions of your
heart, twenty-four hours a day. And the goal is to have a sizable spread from the systolic reading to the diastolic reading. That will indicate a healthy heart at work and then at rest or recovery.

HYPERTENSION means elevated blood pressure (high tension). Higher than 140 "over" 90, 140/90, but some doctors allow higher reading. Salt may increase the reading, so you may want to cut back a little. If you are already on medication for hypertension and it's still "high", let the doctor know and they would probably adjust or changes something. Hypertension may wear out your arteries like you wearing out the garden hose under pressure. High blood pressure increases your chance for heart attacks, strokes, kidney, and eye problems. There are many "natural" or non-drug activities you can do to get your hypertension under control.

HYPOTENSION means a low blood pressure and it would be consistent readings less than 80/60 consistently. If you are very athletic, your body may have adjusted to these lower readings. If you are ever hospitalized, do yourself a big favor and tell someone your BP will naturally be lower. You may feel proud of your low blood pressure but think this through, you may realize that reduced amounts of oxygen, chemicals, or nutrients will also reaching the cells, any cells. Somehow I don't think that maintains a healthy lifestyle. So it is just as important to take regular readings if you suffer from hypotension as for hypertension.

Prevent Blood Pressure (BP) pitfalls when you check your pressures. Picture this.   Your doctor has told you that your blood pressure is too high and he wants you to keep an eye on it. Where do you start? Where do you go to monitor it? You're tempted to buy a "machine" right away, but luckily your pharmacist talks you out of it. There are several easy, quick ways to do this on a regular basis, but there are some ground rules.

Use the machines in the pharmacies or supermarket, but stick to one machine. The readings aren't the same, so don't compare the readings. But here is a way to compare the readings "fairly". Use the same machine, at about the same time of the day each time you check it. Wear roughly the same type of clothing each time. And don't pull up the shirtsleeve: it will block circulation at the upper arm. To get a comparable reading you might go every fourth day, at about noon to the local pharmacy (where you also keep all your prescriptions and buy all your "over the counter" products), and wear the nice cotton shirt with light sweater. (Heavy sweatshirts will not allow proper readings.) Take a few minutes to relax. Then put your arm, with the shirtsleeve still buttoned and sweater in place, into the arm holder, press the button, and wait for it to inflate.

Don't believe the reading? Do it again, BUT wait for at least five minutes. Keep your composure or the measurement will be even higher. When you repeat this, don't change anything. Get another reading and then compare. Some food (salt) or beverages (caffeine, alcohol), or medications can often change the results. A "not so friendly drive" over might also have changed the reading substantially. Did you know that a visit to the doctors' office will really raise your blood pressure? It's a proven fact and its called "white coat syndrome". Record your readings and take the record to the doctor regularly. Pick up a pamphlet from the pharmacist on how to interpret the readings or ask them for help. The first time you get ready to take your blood pressure reading, take the time to read the machine instructions. I have often been challenged when I tell people to keep the sleeves of their shirts smoothed and down. It tells you on the machine! So read all the instructions. You will feel much more confident in knowing you are doing this correctly. It's not brain surgery, but it is very important to your health. It may mean the difference between having to be on medication and avoiding it. Try to always avoid drugs, they are chemicals that your body has to neutralize somehow.

I'd like to end with a word about donating blood. The mission of blood is to keep you alive and well. Its purpose is to take oxygen, nutrients, and chemicals to your cells in all parts of your body. You realize by now that you can't live without it. So what happens when you find yourself without enough of your own through illness or trauma? The obvious thing is to "borrow" it from someone else. In hospitals, we used to give a lot of blood transfusions. We don't do that any longer. There have been too many problems with passing along unhealthy conditions. The gift is still as incredibly helpful and necessary as always, but now it's become very scarce. I have been donating blood for years. It's part of my routine as I know how valuable it will be to several people and to scientific research. But the rooms are generally pretty sparse. Not so after 911! I was thrilled to see the four hour waits! We snaked through rooms of chairs, were given drinks at intervals, chatted with new friends or read our books. And finally donated that precious gift of love. All of us knew it was the only thing we could do personally to help ease our pain. And we proudly sported our little teardrop-shaped stickers on our chests. They read "Be kind to me: I gave blood today"! The donation process itself may be a bit tedious but blood is so valuable that, as with any gift you give, a little inconvenience shouldn't stop you. Please consider becoming a blood donor if you are healthy. And helping others is a purpose for your own life. And keep in mind, all blood donation centers now accept your blood for either yourself or someone in your family in anticipation of a planned procedure. This is truly the gift of life. Medical science has been developing all kinds of practical substitutes, but nature still holds the secret to keeping you alive long after the donated blood has outdated!

This information was intended to help you understand your body and its functions. If you have a medical problem, please seek appropriate advice.


By Karin Henderson - Nurse, Retired.



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