Let’s Talk About Blood Pressure

Hello everyoneeee. I hope the day is treating you well! It is a very blah day here: rainy, cool, just one of those days that makes you want to stay in bed. Speaking of staying in bed, today I want to talk a little bit about blood pressure. Now I am sure you are asking yourself “Why is she writing about blood pressure and why do I care?”

Why? Let me tell you! 

I am making this post because blood pressure regulation is something that I struggle with pretty much on a daily basis. Due to my medical condition, Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome/Dysautonomia, I have a faulty autonomic nervous system that sends my blood pressure out of wack. In addition, blood pressure can also affect those suffering from eating disorders. I know when I was at my worst with my ED, my blood pressure was pretty terrible. I think it is important to discuss this to raise awareness for both chronic conditions such as POTS and Dysautonomia, AS WELL as for eating disorders. There are a lot of people out there who suffer from eating disorders, and if I can provide one person with some information and insight, that is satisfying enough for me! I also want to reach out more to those suffering from chronic illnesses on this blog, so I thought this would be a great post to write and hopefully not too boring! So, let’s begin…

[bear with me while I give you a quick overview on blood pressure…]

Blood pressure is the pressure exerted by circulating blood upon the walls of blood vessels. In other words, blood pressure refers to the arterial pressure in the systemic circulation. The top number is systolic, and the bottom number is the diastolic. The systolic number is the force of the blood through the arteries, and the diastolic number is the pressure in the arteries when the heart is at rest in between beats.  From what I learned in my nutrition course, normal blood pressure is 120/80, and high blood pressure is 140/90. However, I have noticed that not many people talk about low blood pressure, which can cause problems just like high blood pressure! Honestly, I was hoping to learn about both high and low blood pressure in my nutrition course. When I asked my TA about hypotension, he revealed that he did not know much about it since he has only really focused on high blood pressure, and the course only narrows in on high blood pressure as well. So, I decided to do my own research 🙂 after searching on google, I found that the standard number for low blood pressure, or, hypotension is 90/60 or less.

There are so many people out there who have blood pressure on the lower side, but when one’s bp is much lower than 90/60 or when people experience physical symptoms from their low blood pressure, that is when low blood pressure can become a problem. I have always had blood pressure on the lower end. However, I have run into a lot of problems with my blood pressure in the past, and for several reasons. I think the first time that I really experienced major problems with my blood pressure was about 5 years ago during inpatient treatment for my eating disorder. Every morning we were woken up at around 5:30 am to get our daily vitals. I remember one of the first mornings when I was having my blood pressure taken, everything started to go black. I was dizzy, nauseous, and felt as if I were either going to vomit or pass out on the floor. I remember sinking down onto the couch and putting my head between my knees as the bp machine was running. Later that day I was put on wheel chair rest; I spent almost two weeks in a wheel chair waiting for my vitals to stabilize. The doctor informed me that my bottom number (the diastolic) was in the 30’s, and they were very concerned. Pre- syncope episodes occurred frequently during that time in the mornings, but eventually with more fluids and regular eating, my vitals stabilized. Eating disorders can wreak havoc on our bodies. I thought that despite being underweight, since I never lost my period I was fine. My eating disorder had NO consequences…boy, was I wrong. Often times when it comes to eating disorders, we are doing more harm than we can see. There are several health consequences that coincide with eating disorders. Just to name a few more, there is weak bones or osteoporosis, muscle loss and weakness, dehydration, fainting, fatigue, dry hair and skin, hair loss, and death. These are the major consequences of Anorexia Nervosa, and there are many more health detriments that result from Bulimia Nervosa, Binge Eating Disorder, and EDNOS that I did not mention. At any rate, eating disorders are dangerous, deadly diseases that stem from the mind and work its way into the physical body. If you or someone you know has an eating disorder, I strongly encourage you to seek help! There is help out there, and recovery IS possible. Just have hope and faith and be ready to persevere through some hard days. I can tell you, though, that life is far greater than any benefits you receive from your eating disorder.

Now, I am going to switch gears a little and talk about blood pressure and my chronic illnesses. There are several causes to having low blood pressure: medication can cause it, heat exhaustion, hormonal issues, and chronic disease. Since I was diagnosed with Dysautonomia, I have been in and out of hospitals and doctor’s offices with abnormally low blood pressure causing fatigue, dizziness, light headedness, and occasionally passing out. Since I have been struggling with an eating disorder for the past 5 years, I always attributed these issues to my ED. However, it became suspicious when these things remained a problem upon weight restoration and eating and drinking more frequently. After taking two tilt table tests, I was finally diagnosed with POTS as a result of Autonomic Neuropathy, or Dysautonomia. The symptoms that go along with this illness include tachycardia (racing heart), drops in blood pressure upon standing (orthostatic hypotension) and many other symptoms, but those are the main two. I take my blood pressure every day. I need to be careful, though, because I also have OCD, but that’s another post for another day. Anyways, my bp is all over the place. Sometimes it’s normal…For instance, like when I go to the doctor my blood pressure always decides it’s going to be normal…like, what? Then when I am it home it will drop so low…it must be anxiety, and the fact that this illness is so unpredictable. One minute I will be fine and the next minute I feel like falling over, I guess that’s just how it works! Yesterday I was taking my blood pressure, because I kept blacking out while standing up, and my blood pressure dropped down to 75/40, with a heart rate of 130. No wonder I was feeling so funny! So what do I do when that happens? Lie down, drink my G2, and eat salt.

SO: blood pressure. Everyone will talk to you about high blood pressure, how to avoid it, and to reduce your sodium intake. Well, if you have POTS like I do, you will come to know quickly that these regulations do not apply to you. It will get frustrating to hear all about low sodium diets and such, but just hang in there and know that there are many other people out there in the same position as you, even though it is not as commonly talked about.

Have a good night everyone!

Much love,

Claire

 

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