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Blood pressure crack ?

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
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100 % H2O
Feb 5, 2002
Ive been Grounded.

No flying until i pass a blood pressure test. This morning it was 140 / 100. The doc says he took into account the anxiety of being in for the medical ( all pilots fear their medicals pushing up the Bp )

I'm 36 , 185cm and 110 KG. prolly 5 kg too much in my opinion of when i look and feel the best, but if you consult the BMI indexes, I should be 84 KG. NO way.

I far exceed the other average lung test, Hearing test, sight tests and ECG parameters etc

Next wednesday i am being monitored with a device that i have to wear for 24 hours. The black box is worn on my belt and records the BP every 20 minutes. The data is then analysed. If i fail this, i'm grounded until i get it right.

What can i do to crash my BP leading up to and especially for the 24 hour test ? I need an instant, over the counter "crack" for this thing. I cannot afford to fail this.

What can i do long term to keep this stable. ?

I dont eat much salt at all but do eat plenty ( prolly excessive) red meat, chicken, and dairy products and salads. I also am the most stressed person in the world workwise.


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The BMI tables are garbage -- ignore them.

You can take a beta-blocker before the test.

I think that a static table before a test might do the trick too because of vasodilation.

In the U.S., pretty much every pharmacy has a free blood pressure station. If you have such stations there at home, it should be easy enough to try a few methods and see which one works best.

Sorry to hear bad news. Do you have any idea whether this is a continious thing or maybe a onetime occurance? If it is the former, changing diet to much more whole grain, less meat and lots of veggies will make a big difference in BP and cholesterol. Did wonders for my wife and keeps her slim. Only trouble, it is slow to take effect. If this sounds like something you could use, pm me and I'll get some references together that will point you in the right direction.

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To lower your blood pressure, you need to eat copious amounts of raw garlic. Eat only salad, fruits and vegetables for at least a week. Avoid salt. You can even go into the sauna (the vasodilation and dehydration will cause BP to plummet).

Don't do any apnea at all, it increases your BP for a while after.

Suntanning and/or meditating could help, but erratically.

Even greater dehydration will lower BP further. I don't really recommend it, but people have gone to the extreme and gone for a run while wearing a garbage bag to promote perspiration.

Whatever you do, don't actually fly in this low-BP dehydrated state.

Eric Fattah
BC, Canada
Primary drug therapy for moderate/mild hypertension is a thiazide diuretic e.g. hydrochlorothiazide (trade names Esidrix & hydrodiuril). Over here these require prescription & probably do as well in SA where you are. Secondly, B-blockers like Atenolol, but again likely only by prescription.

Probably one of the best things you can do is relax when you are monitored. Stress and anxiety have drastic effects on BP. (I think a lot of the techniques for relaxation that freedivers employ are good anxiety reducers, like abdominal breathing, meditation etc.)

Long term crack - basically lifestyle modification (if applicable) like some of the others have mentioned:

- if you smoke, stop
- limit alcohol consumption
- aerobic exercise regularly
- good diet (including modest salt intake)
- weight loss
- reduce stress

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Sorry to hear about this.

There is one thing that has not been mentioned yet, and that is sleep! Yes, Good ol' sleep!. The week before or as much as you can, make sure to sleep regularly and the amount of hours you really need to rest. Try to get to bed by 10:00 no matter what. Retiring early and waking up early is much more beneficial than getting to bed at 12 AM and waking up at 8 AM, even though both are 8 hours, the body has a biological clock that follows natural cycles whether we like it or not. Also stay away from the TV a few hours before sleeping - watching TV churns up the nervous system, it's subtle but the effect is there.

Take your meals regularly and eat in peace in a quiet place - no TV blaring nor eating in a hurry.

All this may seem too basic or "light" but it gives a lot of stability to the body, resulting in a more rested body and calmer mind.

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have been through a period of worrying over 'exacerbated' BP myself - father and his 4 brothers, plus some of their kids who are older than me, all suffer from the same, and one died as a result of a stroke (age 60) from BP.

Check out (through Google) a search on 'secretguidetohealth' - yes, without spaces. Also, www.whfoods.com for foodstuffs that are good against BP (yep, Garlic REALLY helps, but so do apples, celery, and many others) - this is a great health web-site in general. Many websites promote increases in potassium intake, which is important to counterbalance sodium (prevalent particularly in N.American diets!).

On the total bummer side - my doctor did a test on me last year for a genetic factor that can mean you have a tendency towards high BP, regardless of health/lifestyle. Can't remember what the factor was, but ask your GP about this!

My personal opinion is: treat medication REALLY as an absolute LAST resort, when you have tried everything else, cause usually, it is a change of lifestyle that is needed (worked for my dad a treat!). And like Adrian said - GET ENOUGH SLEEP!!!! It is not just for wimps. And getting 'enough sleep when you are dead' ain't gonna help either, with regards to flying.

None of this helps in the short term - but if I've learnt anything in life (ever done DIY plumbing ?!?), then it is that a short term fix 'aint worth shit'. You might even find, since you are (relatively) young, and (self-admitted) mega-stressed, that a short-term grounding (I hope there is such a thing as 'short-term') would be a good thing in the long term ... not comforting, but think in terms of being here not for the next 12 months, but the next 40-70 years!!! The long-term effects of high BP can be f***ing fatal ... literally.

Good luck.
My Plan

When the Doc said.. im not being nasty but you are grounded for a week untill the 24 hour test, the first thing that went through my head was to get my hands on a few of someones blood pressure tabs and ace the test next week.

Then i posted and longterm diet and lifestyle started to become important factors in the equation. After calming down some i realised that the 24 hour test was an opportunity to find out if i really do have a blood pressure problem and masking it with dehydration and drugs and whatnot was not going to serve me well.

I now have total confidence that if the 24 hour home monitoring shows a problem i will be able to lick it with natural changes. So im now quite prepared to take the test in a natural state and let be what will be.

All I will be doing between now and next Wednesday is calming, riding out my daily work issues with a back seat attitude, dieting.. and for me this means cutting down, not really a change in what i eat as i like healthy foods naturally. Just too much of it :) I dont drink or smoke either ( ever)

Seeing as my cholesterol is 4.5 ( good) especially considering the dairy and meat that i eat. Add to that no history of high BP in my family, Mother and sister have very Low BP and "0.0", yes, you heard me right, they do not register on cholesterol tests at all.
- I have to blame my thing on "White coat hypertension" ie test anxiety as well as 5 - 8 Kg of excessive weight and stress.

I can / will fix all of this.

Many thanks again for giving me the confidence and direction to take this bull by the horns and wrestle it to the ground properly.

I will post the results of the test next week.

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oh, and there's more ...

glad to hear you are going along the sensible route.

Here are a few more thoughts:

1. You can buy an electronic wrist-mounted BP checker for next to nothing - 25 euro here in Germany. So long as you read the instructions properly (!) and rest your wrist at the correct height (monitor level with the heart!), they are quick, easy to use, and perfectly reliable, meaning you can take it everywhere with you in a briefcase. Get one. Then measure your BP often (but not TOO often - every 20 mins is plenty). To start with, like me, you will register high, because you expect to, and you will get apprehensive. After a while, it becomes repetitve, and you will then get a better idea before your doc tests you what your BP really looks like (can be higher in the morning). If it WAS only 'white coat syndrom', then you will be WELL prepared to go into the test relaxed. If not, you will at least be expecting the results, which should also help - fear of the unknown is mostly the worst.

2. Go to an optician. A good optician will see from the blood vessels on the back of your eye whether you have a long-term BP problem - long-term (over months) raised BP will deform the blood vessels from more or less straight to snake-like, and the more snake-like, the longer/higher the BP problem. This doesn't give you an 'accurate' BP measurement, but again, fore-warned is fore-armed, and will help reduce any potential on-the-day stress.

3. While Eric is absolutely right about apnea raising BP, it IS only a short term effect. At the end of the day, walking up the stairs, sex, exercise, and a whole range of things raise BP very normaly, safely and naturally, and only for short periods - this is one of the things that makes exercise good for you! You may even find that doing EASY apnea stuff, if this is really something you are into, will help you chill out a bit before. But obviously not 10 minutes beforeyou got to the doc's!

4. For future one-off checks - maybe this is obvious, and has been said before, but remember that lowering your heart-rate with controlled and calm breathing, just the same as for apnea exercises, will also help immediately for BP (to a limited degree).

5. Since last summer, I have started logging sites on info about BP, medical and alternative. I like to think that I can at least half-way recognise the crap from the good. If you would like (or anyone else), I will send you a list of links.

Well, once more, good luck!
I read somewhere that a breathing pattern where you hold for some seconds at the bottom of each exhale, lowers BP. i.e. inhale (not max), exhale fully, hold 5-10 sec, inhale, exhale, hold 5-10 sec., etc... might be worth a try if you need a short term decrease in BP.

Eric Fattah
BC, Canada

My wife and I had to get physicals before we bought life insurance a year ago, which was right around the time our daughter was born.

We had to fast for 24 hours and the insurance company sends out a private nurse who does blood draws, BP, pulse, ect. The first time we planned for her to come, where I fasted, she never showed up!:(

The next time she "planned" to come I fasted, but started to wonder if she would ever get here and had some coffee, the real stuff, before she arrived. It would prove to be the most expensive coffee that I would ever drink.;)

She took my BP and it read 125/85. That meant I was in a higher bracket and needed to pay an extra $210 a year in premiums!:head

I tried to have my doctor retest me and submit the findings, since high BP is not a problem for me, but they wouldn't allow it. When I did go to the doctor's office I had them check it and it was 110/70. This is much more typical for me and felt more releaved that my BP was fine- but that I was still getting screwed on my insurance premiums!

Moral of the story- I have since switched to decaf.

The doc tried his best. he took my BP 4 times during the visit and tried not to let on that there was a problem .. hoping i would relax. He asked more than once if i was sure i was not on sinus medication and if i had drank much coffee the day before or that morning.

I did a 2 minute breathe- up with 'slowing the heart thoughts and the like' before the last measurement to try relax the best way i knew how. I was unfortunately aware by that time that something was amiss owing to him taking my BP lying down , sitting, arm up arm down .. etc.

He compared my results with the last 3 times i had been to him since 1997, ( once every two years for PPL renewal medical)
He said my BP was always above optimum but he had given me the benefit of the doubt. This time though with the 3.5kg more than last time and a higher reading still, i had to be dissed.

Seagull its interesting what you say about the vessels in the eyes. Can this affect your vision ? I actually was unconcerned about my BP going into the medical but had noticed over the last 6 months my right eye blurring a bit especially in low light and i was more anxious about this than anything else. Could still read the bottom line though.

As of today I'm down by 2.6 KG and hope to weigh in at 105 by Wednesday for the 24 hour test. Its amazing what you can do when it gets serious.

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sorry to hear that the first BP reading was not just an anomaly.

The thing with the eyes: I am pretty sure that it does not directly affect the sight. Looking at it from an engineer's point of view, much the same as a garden hose which is left on a turned on tap, but with a nozzle valve off, a flexible fluid carrier is going to go like a snake over time. This doesn't necessarily affect the performance ... at least, not until it bursts. I don't know how accurately this analogy can be compared to an eye's blood vessel. Best ask an optician - it's the only sure way, but after hearing that your BP has always been on the high side for at least 6 years, I would think it is a 'safe' bet that your eyes are just going to reflect this. Go check 'em.

I think Pezman's opinion that BMI's are 'garbage' is wrong. Naturally, there are well-built and skinny people, and for the different builds, there will be variations on the theme, as to what constitutes 'overweight'. however, checking on the following BMI table:


you have a 'high' risk of developing health problems. Given that you have also lost 2.6Kg in such a short time, I'd say you are definitely carrying quite a few kilos too much (unless you are starving yourself, which I hope is not the case, since this is also a BAAAAD idea), which would tie into the BMI table.

I am a similar example, although with totally different statistics: 165 cm, used to be 56-58 Kg until after I left uni, when I gradually increased weight as I ate more and exercised less, particularly after moving to Germany. When I hit 66 Kg, I thought 'holy shit', and switched to (healthy) salads (yes, salads can also be very UNhealthy, if you don't put the right things in them), cut out the coke (cola!) and croissants and other junk I had somehow just slipped into eating. In 2 weeks I lost nearly 3 kilos. It has since stabilised at around 62, since I am not terribly disciplined, and still give in to the occasional beer/kebab/other unhealthy stuff, but I feel much better (and my trousers fit again). I would like to hit 60, but am not too bothered now I am down to 62.

Bottom line is, just like my wife experienced (was 162cm and 108Kg, now down to 85Kg), too much weight is a REAL killer.

Ok, muscle weighs more than fat, but having bulging muscles also ain't going to help BP.

And you can weigh yourself every day, despite what doctors tell you - morning and evening is best. This gives you a real handle on how your body reacts, not whether you have lost 25g in day. It is interesting.

To repeat myself a little, for your long-term benefit:

1. buy a BP checker and visit the opticians
2. reduce your stress (examine your life and what you want out of it - this helped me loads 9 months ago)
3. aim for (well!) under 100 Kg - even if you are well built, at 185 this MUST be realistic, if an effort. You should be able to see a 6-pack on your 'belly', otherwise you are carrying too much fat.
4. sort out your diet - fruit REALLY is important (strawberries are one of the healthiest fruits to eat!) and the old saying 'an apple a day keeps the doctor aways' is NOT due to vitamin C, rather, more because of high potassium, magnesium and other various minerals, not to mention lots more complexer ingredients. And ever try a raw spinach salad (with yoghurt/apple cider vinegar/honey dressing, plus ...)? It tastes great, and is about a zillion times better than lettuce.
6. Have your doctor blood test you for any genetic factors affecting your BP, where life style improvements will not help. If your GP doesn't know about this, check out another doctor.

By the way, you said you 'could not afford to fail' this test ... why? Does your job depend on it?

Hope this isn't going on too much, or being boring, but high BP is not known as the 'silent killer' for nothing.

One last thing - look at the test on Wednesday as a life-saving experiment that is going to tell you whether you have serious problems or not, and not just a case of being grounded. I think you grasped that already, but I can't say it too often. Well, ok, I can ... so I won't say it again, ok :eek: ?
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From someone who did those medicals once, then twice and finally three times a year, for forty years, let me lend you my support. Since you know as much as I about the subject, let me tell you about a very good friend that was grounded and had to do the 24 hr thing. He works for Delta AL and has another major problem (internal mechanical parts) but, after all the paper work and the medicine, the Feds let him fly 767s again.
Doctors are great and make miracles happen. Optimism can be magical medicine.
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hypertension is one of the most common diseases of civilisation. nothing unusual at all especially among men. don't worry about it (in those ranges you mentioned) in a short term context - rather worry about it in a long term context. hypertension is a major risk factor for cardiovascualr diseases. if a healthy lifestyle, appropriate nutrition and stress-management doesn't help, think about taking medicine. a calcium-antagonist for example. many athletes decided to take them - most products are not on the ioc doping list. ask your doctor.

all the best to you
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My Diet.

Hi Guys.

I thought this weekend was going to be tough diet wize, but remarkably i must be adjusting to eating better and less helped on by a diet shake called Ultima 450. I dont know how / if its marketed as such in your parts.

Since last Tuesday i have lost to date 4kg by substituting breafast and lunch with 450 shake.

4 kg is less than 4 % so its not such a radical shift for a week.
I must say that i feel better already, more comfortable that is and surprisingly seem to sleep better.

As for passing the test Seagull, No i dont fly for a living rather for recreation and my personal business travel but being grounded is the same as a doc telling you no more freediving. ( this should put it perspective)
Its also worrying that there is a latent risk to your health, so I am challenging myself to pass the test by making changes so that i firstly prove i can control the BP for longterm health naturally, and secondly to get my wings back naturally.
Bill, the Doc also said not to worry too much. If i cant get it right naturally there is always medicine, but i will avoid that at any cost.

My short tem goal is 105 KG, see how i feel and look. But i could never go below 100 KG as this would have to eat into muscle tissue.

Regards Skin.

I have the results of my 24 hours BP monitoring. The average BP was 113 / 72. The average datum doctors refer to is 120 / 80.

The highest reading recorded was the first, as the machine was put on my arm of 146/100 and the lowest was around 8.00 PM last night just before bedtime of 96/63

The doc agreed my BP was actually very good. While i have lost 5kg during the past week and a half and im sure it contributed to the good readings, i think that white coat hypertension was actually the cause of the high reading that prompted the test.

Beware and aware of white coat hypertension !! Its real. Insist on 24 hour home monitoring. It can save you worry and money. ( insurance purposes.)

Thanks for all your help.

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I bet that's a relief!!!, Great news. :)

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