Reader Question: Blood Pressure Bamboozle?

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!

G asks: I have sent this to Lew Rockwell, Bill Sardi, a retired uncle who was high up at FDA, a retired doctor sister, medical people at all levels, etc, etc, and received no response or no meaningful response. I read your articles with interest because your mind works (!) and with interesting perspectives on long-accepted (though indefensibly incorrect) thinking.

What do you make of the following?

My blood pressure story, so far: I am a workman. I build and fix real things with my hands. I recently spent a couple days in a hospital ICU where my blood pressure was taken by a machine, automatically, every 15 minutes, 24 hours a day. The method of BP measurement has bothered me all my adult life, but I now had the wakeful hours to work out why. In all fluid and gas piping systems I am familiar with, pressure in the system is measured by placing a tee fitting in the line, and a pressure gauge in the open end of the tee. The gauge consists of a plunger sealing the side pipe and connected to a calibrated dial readout. As fluid (or gas) pressure in the line rises or falls, the spring loaded plunger is moved, and the connected dial’s readout changes. The pressure reading is a direct measurement of the fluid pressure within the pipe. Blood pressure is far and away most often “measured” with a sphygmomanometer, or blood pressure cuff, which reads “blood pressure” by squeezing a patient’s upper arm (most often) using an air inflatable tube tube surrounding the upper arm. This method is non-invasive, but actually measures how much air pressure is needed to squash flat a patient’s artery within the arm, not the pressure within the circulatory system.

Now then, let’s presume some patients are more meaty, flabby, skinny, muscular, or whatever, than others. If two patients actually have the identical fluid pressure in their pipes, but one’s upper arm is significantly more reinforced against squashing, their “blood pressure” readings using a sphygmomanometer should necessarily be vastly different than the other’s. In the ICU and back at home, I experimented by tightening up (keeping my arm straight) just my upper arm muscles and the readings were 50 to 60 higher than the relaxed readings immediately before & after. At home I stuck a 30mm wrench’s socket longitudinally at the line between bicep and tricep on the inside of my arm (where the artery is protected by these two muscles) beneath the cuff to give the sphygmomanometer some artery squashing help, and got readings 20 to 25 lower than normally-taken readings immediately before and after, with no added pain (and often much less pain/discomfort) to my arm. Which makes me think… The worst case is I have squash-resistant circulation tubing, the medical people (meaning well) are using the wrong tool / method to measure fluid pressure within my tubing, and as a result I am being virtually force-fed an array of meds which can only “succeed” if they make my tubing more squashy.

My reply: I am not a doctor, although my dad was – so I am hip to the sphygmomanometer. Your line of thinking is interesting. It’s of a piece with the Body Mass Index fraud, according to which I am borderline obese because I am 205 pounds (6ft 3). These general gradations do not, however, take into account muscle mass. My waist is 32 inches – same as it was in high school – and I can still meet the Marine PT standard of physical fitness.

If I am borderline “obese” then John Candy was borderline svelte!

Two other issues come to mind, one of them indisputably factual. It is that human physiology varies, right down to the architecture of the body and the arrangement/placement of organs and so on. Anatomy maps are a general guide. Ask any surgeon. Your arteries may be in slightly different position than mine – und so weiter.

Also, people vary in terms of what is “normal” . . . for them. One size does not necessarily fit all. My ex father-in-law has a resting heart rate in the 40s, which is considered abnormally low. For him, it is  perfectly normal. The guy is in his 70s and still one hell of an athlete (50 mile bike rides, etc.) yet his doctor blabbers at him all the time about how “abnrmal” his heart rate is.

BP “normal” also varies.

Use of meds to force an individual’s BP into conformity with a general standard strikes me as basically the same thing as demanding that every person of such-and-such height weigh no more (or less) than such-and-such.

Some people are naturally ectomorphic; others mesomorphic – most of us fall somewhere in between. It is probably the same with regard to “normal” BP. While I don’t dispute the objective reality of BP that is excessively high, I suspect the “normal” range of the spectrum is wider than the Official Story tells it.

I personally would not be concerned over a reading that is somewhat higher than what is considered “normal,” especially if I knew I was not significantly overweight and did exercise and didn’t smoke.

I might make some dietary/lifestyle changes and see what effect that has.

Which brings me to the second issue – which is is the reflexive prescription of meds; the insistence that patients take meds if their BP is higher than an arbitrary (the “bad” threshold has changed a number of times) number; same for cholesterol.

The troubling thing here is that refusal will shortly become some sort of proof that the refusnik is “mentally ill” and this will become the justification for all sorts of Soviet-esque nastiness, from Hut! Hut! Hut! raids to confiscate his firearms to perhaps the confiscation of himself. Off to the Crazy House for you – where you’ll be forced to take those meds. And not just BP and cholesterol meds.

The medical profession is not what it was when my dad was a doctor. Doctors today are emissaries of the government. This is no joke. It is absolute fact.

This is why I stay away from doctors. I do not expect to live forever. But I figure I’ll live freer without any records of my medical status – or recalcitrance – in existence.

Got a question about cars – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!

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  1. Mark, I had a cousin in charge of the wind with unknown diseases in a large hospital. I told him I was fairly often in his his town and would drop by to visit if I didn’t fear hospitals. He told me “Don’t come to the hospital for any reason except if you must, We have diseases we can’t identify and our entire floor is isolated as well as we can get it from the others”. He’s dead now but he’d be proud to know there is now a building there just for those unknown diseases.

    If you think I don’t care about you because I don’t visit, it’s just because I’m a coward. I didn’t have surgery when it would have been, in the specialist’s eye, my best option. Suffering from MRSA and Shingles, I just figured surgery would be the end of me and still do. I just cover wounds with honey and hope for the best.

    • I dig that! I am fairly young and healthy now. But I’ve told my wife on many occasion that I am NOT going to the hospital when I get old, unless (basically) it is for a coronary! Soooo many older people (70+) go into the hospital for some (usually elective) procedure and come out dead! No knee replacements for me! (That is, unless I get them done in my 50’s or very early 60’s) But after 65, I am not going into the hospital unless my health is in immediate, grave danger.

  2. Unless youre in severe distress staying away from doctors is a good idea. If I break my leg yes take me to the doctor please. Its everything else that can get you trapped in the medical industry.

    • Funny you say that Mark3. It was both leg bones broken and the Achilles tendon pulled the center of the bone out in my foot. I have suffered for years but it’s much better now, esp since I began using CBD oil. I’ve had people ask me about my surgery after seeing my leg. I didn’t have surgery I reply. Then they get really strange looks. Scars work equally well from the inside out I found out.

  3. I worked fairly hard physically growing up. By the time I was 15 or 16 I noticed on the charts in doctor’s offices I was overweight for my height even though I had not a bit of fat on me. As I got older my weight, even though I might have only weighed 170 lbs, had me right there in the lower part of overweight. I had doctors tell me not to worry, they wished all their overweight patients were as trim as I. I also couldn’t and still can’t float, due to a couple doctors who said my skeleton and muscle mass were at fault and it isn’t an uncommon condition. Diving for booty on the bottom was never a problem though.


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