If this is the Future, then Where’s my Damn Hovercraft!?! (and other lies about blood pressure…)

26 Jul

I’m not here to pick a fight with your general health practitioner. This is not Corey vs. Your Doctor, although it may seem as such sometimes…. BUT! When I see a load of bullcrap I cannot help myself but to call it as such and it just so happens that the modern medical establishments seems to be full of it! It really gets my blood pressure up which in turn, would make my doctor want to medicate me. And THAT, is what this is all about.

1 in 3 U.S. adults have high blood pressure (hypertension). 75% of these people are controlling their hypertension with medication costing around 93,5 billion dollars per year. An additional 1 in 3 Americans are considered pre-hypertensive, meaning that they have higher than normal blood pressure and are at an increased risk of developing hypertension later in life. What is normal? The AHA says that 115/75 mmHG is ideal. 12o-139/ 80-89 puts you into the pre-hypertensive category and anything 140/90 and up tags you as hypertensive. Good luck qualifying for a half million dollars of life insurance for only $9.99/ month!

“Yeah, that’s great and all, but what the heck do all those numbers mean?”

Great question, glad you asked. Well, here is the West Virginia Community College Blood Pressure 101 explanation:

The top number of the blood pressure equation is your systolic pressure. This is the amount of pressure that blood exacts on the vessels when your heart pumps. Between beats your blood pressure drops. This pressure is represented by the bottom number and is called diastolic pressure. Factors that effect blood pressure include: emotional state, alcohol and caffeine consumption, ambient temperature, having to pee ( I’m not making this stuff up! Systolic blood pressure can increase up to 15mmHG when you have a full bladder), smoking, not getting good sleep, nutrition, attractive members of the opposite ( or same?…) gender, being overweight, your activity level… So, pretty much anything and everything. Your blood pressure fluctuates wildly throughout the day depending on these factors and others.

Awesome! Class dismissed. Graduation is Thursday night at the Waffle House.

“Wow, with that much variability, how can they truly be sure if someone has high blood pressure or not?”

Dude, its like you just read my mind. It is not out of the realm of possibilities for someone who is young and healthy with a blood pressure of 115/75 to walk into a doctor’s office, lightly caffeinated and having to pee, perhaps with a little anxiety over the dude hacking up a lung in the waiting room, or maybe needles, or nurses and doctors in general, and get a blood pressure reading of 140/90. Bam! Hypertension. “Gee, son. Your blood pressure looks a little high” says the Doc,  planting the seed of concern and creating anxiety for our healthy youngster the next time a blood pressure reading is taken. Guess what? High again.

Hopefully our fine medical community would exhaust all other options before placing this person on a prescription drug with a host of nasty side effects for the rest of his/her life. I once heard a saying, “Hope in one hand and crap in the other. Let me know which one fills up the fastest” or something slightly more poetic….

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!!! (spoken in my best 3am infomercial voice)

Doctors, nurses and the AHA will  tell you that for every 20 point increase in systolic pressure, your risk of dying from a cardiac event doubles. Wow! That is amazing! Good thing we’ve got all of these pharmaceutical companies around to save us! This “information” is drawn from the extensive research done in the Framingham study. The same Framingham study that I used to blow up the establishments unwarranted vilification of our good friend bacon. Here is the data in a nice, neat little graph.

Well, that sure looks convincing. I guess I should go hide in the closet and give up on the pro-pork belly crusade. Oh wait, this is a blog about calling *cough* bullshit* cough* cough* on the medical establishment.  Okay, ready? Check out this graph. It is the raw data that was used to create the previous. Only this time without “computer smoothing” (a.k.a. distorting the real data).

“Gee whiz. That looks a lot different.”

Yes it does. Remember the whole “every 20 point increase in systolic pressure doubles your risk of dying from a cardiac event”. Complete and utter crap. Someone with a systolic pressure of 120 has virtual the same risk as someone at 155. In fact everything from 100-160 looks fairly benign. But… pretty benign doesn’t sell pills very well, does it? I’ll leave you with a quote from Thomas Edison:

“The doctor of the future will give no medicine but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet and in the cause and prevention of disease.”


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