How high is “high” blood pressure? A thought from a physician:
I’m old enough to remember when we first got good blood pressure medicines, and debated whether we should treat those whose BP was “only” 150-160 … the study that convinced us was one that took some veterans and treated them to keep their pressure under 140 and others they left untreated at 160. Short term, no problem. Long term: More heart attacks and strokes.
I explained to my patients that severe high blood pressure was like running your car at 80 mph in first gear: you will burn out your engine quickly. But mild to moderate high blood pressure was like running your car in second gear: your engine will work fine, but wear out faster than if you used 3 or 4th gear when you went fast.
Then again, if your car is always parked … but never mind, this simile can stretch only so far.
I posted a 160/98 at my last physical, which was deemed a Cause For Alarm, since this is generally 25/15 points above my average. It took me a while to figure out what the hell had happened: I’d baked a ham earlier in the week, which made for lots of leftovers, and hams generally are cured with something like eleven times my usual sodium consumption. (Usually the only thing to which I add salt is the water I boil for cooking pasta, though of course I’m going to pick up greater-than-trace amounts in all manner of foods.) Inscrutably, blood sugar was down markedly that day.