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  1. #1
    TNT's Avatar
    TNT is offline Retired Moderator
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    Nov 2001
    Mid-Atlantic U.S.

    Cool AS and Blood Pressure: FALSE High Readings

    With the recent threads here on high cholesterol and high blood pressure, I actually have a story of my own to add . . .

    A few weeks ago, I pulled out my handy-dandy home blood pressure monitor, a top-of-the-line digital model that I bought a few years ago to monitor my parents' blood pressure. I wanted to see how my B/P was doing since I gave up smoking a few weeks earlier.

    So anywho, my systolic was in the 150's. A short while later, after I had been moving around, it was in the 160's. I continued to check it occasionally, and a couple of times it was in the 170's. My diastolic readings and pulse rate were normal. So, "Hmmmmmm," I thought, I appear to have moderate systolic hypertension.

    A brief but helpful background for the uninitiated . . .

    Blood pressure is measured in two numbers: the systolic (higher) and the diastolic (lower). Normal is a systolic of up to 130 and a diastolic of up to 85. (The total is expressed as 130/85, or "130 over 85.") If either number is higher, then you are said to have high blood pressure. The scale, measured as "mm per Hg," is:

    .................................................. .....Systolic...........Diastolic

    Normal blood pressure...................... Below 130.......Below 85
    High normal blood pressure...............130-139...........85-89
    Stage 1 (mild) hypertension...............140-159...........90-99
    Stage 2 (moderate) hypertension......160-179...........100-109
    Stage 3 (severe) hypertension..........180-209 ...........110-119
    Stage 4 (very severe) hypertension...210 or higher...120 or higher

    (Sorry about all the dots, but you need them to have columns come up halfway aligned in this program.)

    Most, though not all, people with high blood pressure will have a high systolic but their diastolic will be in, or close to, normal range. The term for this is isolated systolic hypertension, and it occurs when the systolic is >140 but the diastolic is <90.

    High blood pressure is never cured, but is easily treated. There are several types of drugs that are used - too numerous to go into here and not relevant to this post - but hypertension is a treatable condition.

    Back to our story . . . So I called the doctor and bopped over to have my blood pressure checked by them - to make sure that I was getting an accurate reading from my monitor. The nurse checked me with their monitor, then I took a reading at the same time with my monitor. Sure enough, both monitors showed a systolic in the 160's, and it's at the point of Stage 2 when you usually go on a blood pressure medication.

    So the doctor took my B/P with a stethoscope and got a similar result, but then she took it with a larger cuff (the part that wraps around your arm) and got a systolic in the 130's. Since I was doing a nicotine supplement at the time (remember, I had just given up cigarettes), which could cause an increase in blood pressure, especially with the 8 pounds I had gained thus far from giving up the butts (no, folks, that was not muscle gain), we decided to start a low 10 mg. dose course of Prinivil, a common ACE inhibitor drug.

    After a few days, I noticed no significant decrease in the systolic readings, so we upped the Prinivil dosage from 10 to 20 mg. a day. Some difference, but not much.

    And then I got to thinking . . . Wait a second. When the doctor took my B/P with a larger cuff, the systolic went down by well almost 30 points. Maybe the problem is not high blood pressure at all, but simply that the cuff is too small. (All together now, "Hmmmmmmmmm . . .")

    So I called the friendly folks that manufactured my blood pressure monitor and got the lowdown on cuffs. I learned that there are actually three different cuff sizes:

    ........Small cuff..........For arms 5.1-7.9" in circumference
    ........Medium cuff......For arms 7.5-12.2" in circumference
    ........Large cuff.........For arms 11.8-17.7" in circumference

    So what does this mean? (All together now, "Duuhhhhhh . . .")

    Well, campers, it means that if you are a body builder or you lift weights and you are told by a doctor or nurse that your high blood pressure is high, they might be using too small a cuff and it might not be high at all.

    Why? Because lifters and others who work out have bigger arms than the average person, especially at the point where they wrap the cuff: around the biceps.

    So take a minute and see if you have a tape measure at home. Then measure your arm, not flexing it, around the bicep. That will be the circumference of your arms where the cuff normally goes. Compare it with the numbers above, and if you have to have your blood pressure taken at a doctor's office, hospital, etc., make sure they're using the right size cuff. (Some people are lazy and will simply use the cuff that is already on the machine.)

    (Trivia point: Most physician offices and hospitals do not use the automatic monitors, they use the older blood pressure machines. For bonus points, do you know what they're called? The answer is at the bottom of this post.)

    Anyway, you can learn something new every day. I've just ordered a larger cuff, and it will be interesting to see how much lower my systolic is and whether I can get off the Prinivil. (I'll let y'all know.)

    Finally, consider the moral of the story, and the relevance of this topic here . . . Remember that some AS can increase your blood pressure. The question, then is, if your B/P is up, how much higher is it really? Before you go confessing to doing big-time cycles, make sure that the doctor or nurse is getting a correct reading by using the correct cuff size.

    Answer to the trivia question: It's a sphygmomanometer. Like that and 50 cents will get you half a cup of coffee . . .

  2. #2
    EXCESS's Avatar
    EXCESS is offline Retired Moderator
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    Aug 2001
    Nice to know. Good post! I'll bump 'er back up for ya.

  3. #3
    Mighty Joe's Avatar
    Mighty Joe is offline Anabolic Member
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    Nov 2001

    You just simply stated my story!

    I was told I needed meds for HBP. I tried to clean up my diet even more than usual and pick up the Cardio before getting on medication. I go back and still high 148/95 or something. So i go on Zestril at 10mg.

    Low and behold....a nurse comes to my house for Life Insurance stuff and pulls out a large cuff.....'cause, well, I'm a big mofo.
    And my blood pressure is way low like 120/71.

    What the f*&k!
    So I wean my way off the med and my BP is @ 135/83 roughly 10 points lower! So now its time to call the Doc and tell him he is an Idiot!


  4. #4
    silverfox's Avatar
    silverfox is offline Retired Moderator
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    Nov 2001
    very good info, sometimes my BP is all over the place. Was worried other day when i got a very high reading out of one of the drug store deals, but had to jam my arm into the thing.

  5. #5
    peaker's Avatar
    peaker is offline Senior Member
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    Aug 2001

  6. #6
    Gear101's Avatar
    Gear101 is offline Member
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    Jan 2002
    had me tested not to long ago and the AS made it go up to 134/81 I'm thinking and it's normally 120/130 and 70/75 so i wasw happy to see that , but creatine sends my BP throw the roof....

  7. #7
    Kaz's Avatar
    Kaz is offline Member
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    Jan 2002
    London UK
    excellent post and worth knowing.... now...... i wonder if those cuffs come in XXL

  8. #8
    beefydragon's Avatar
    beefydragon is offline Member
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    Mar 2004
    I was looking at my previous high bp posting... and I found this thread. Was quite helpful!


  9. #9
    Drummerboy's Avatar
    Drummerboy is offline Anabolic Member
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    May 2004
    this is an old thread, but ppl have been asking about blood preasure and this is good to know!

  10. #10
    SlightlySt00pid's Avatar
    SlightlySt00pid is offline Associate Member
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    Oct 2005
    Mesa, AZ
    Good to know, I had my BP tested on one of the pharmacy machines... I could BARELY fit my arm in it. And what do ya know, high BP. Freaked me out for a minute. Im still gonna go to the doc just to make sure, but this info is good to know and I'll be sure to request the larger cuff, and now I'm DEFINATELY not as freaked.

  11. #11
    Jayhawk21's Avatar
    Jayhawk21 is offline Junior Member
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    Dec 2005
    but creatine sends my BP throw the roof....
    Whoa whoa whoa..Does creatine really cause your BP to rise? Anybody else notice this, I've never heard.

    I only have about 13.75-14 inch arms (my arms suck, genetics will not let them get big). The machine at Wal-Mart I use says 7-13 inch arms, so my readings are probably a lil bit high, but it's still good to use the same one because then you know how much AAS is actually making it go up.

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