Blood Pressure - Ask Why

Blood Pressure - Ask Why

Blood pressure, or hypertension, is an astonishingly common problem. In this case, men seem to suffer from hypertension more than women do. I will shortly explain why. But why does anyone suffer from hypertension, and is there anything you can do to prevent or even reverse your condition?

In the past decade of working in healthcare, I have learned a simple tool: ask why. Why am I suffering from [fill in the blanks]? By keeping asking why, you will learn the origin of the problem and possibly a solution. Let's do blood pressure.

You have five litres of blood flowing in your body across approximately 100,000 miles of arteries and veins. The thickness (viscocity) of blood is measured in a unit known as centipoise, with somewhere between 3-5 being normal. Imagine that the thickness of your blood changed for the worse. It got thicker. Thicker blood will flow more slowly, just the nature of thick, sticky fluid. Your body will need more pressure to send blood everywhere. Your blood pressure rises. You may ask: Why did my blood get thicker?

Blood is made all the time. Half a litre every week, but millions of blood cells every second. If extra fat, or cholesterol, is being released into your blood, it will get thicker. Extra cholesterol is an outcome of excess fat being made by your liver and now being released into your blood stream. Now obviously, you would ask why your liver is being mischevious.

It is not the fault of our stars, dear Brutus, as Caesar would say. The liver was given more food in calorie terms than it needed and simply stored the extra as fat. Some of this fat made its way into your bloodstream. Of course, none of this happened because you gorged on too much food last night. It happened over years, perhaps decades. You did not develop high blood pressure overnight; it took years of eating more calories than you needed to change the viscosity of your blood enough to give you blood pressure.

Note: I am simply trying to explain the concept. Obviously, blood pressure is caused by a variety of reasons, and all of them cannot be explained in one short essay. The point I wanted to make was simply that of asking questions to understand why.