Published on March 31st, 2015 | by Richard Black


High Blood Pressure, Causes Thereof and How to Not Relax


I’m no doctor but that break on the last blip doesn’t look good.

So it turns out that I have an elevated blood pressure and by elevated I mean a good twenty points above what it should be on both the systolic and diastolic measure. By one account I have pre-hypertension and another I’m in stage one hypertension neither of which are conditions I’ve aspired to but it’s really just an honor to be nominated.

Until my visit with the doctor on a somewhat related subject I’ll forgo discussing right now I’d always assumed that hypertension is a condition from which anyone raising a four year old child suffered. Apparently I was wrong and, as a side note, making a joke to this effect is frowned upon at least in medical circles. The physician gave me the sort of look that implied people like me were the reason he was thinking of becoming a used car salesmen and an uncomfortable silence ensued. Over the past few years I’ve come to understand that people reserve this sort of reaction for the times I make some grossly inappropriate remark, vastly discount the severity of a subject or, on a few truly momentous occasions, manage to parlay both of these capabilities into one stunningly tasteless and idiotic comment (But my baby needs the Mountain Dew to get up just like she needs the cough medicine to gets to sleep. Is that wrong? Yes Mr. Black it is. Could I get your contact information again?)

I’m not trying to make light of hypertension or feeding infants caffeine at least not completely. When it’s not managed properly high blood pressure is quite deadly. The condition strains the vessels as well as the heart, the brain, the lungs and just about any other system that relies upon the delivery of blood which, if memory serves, is most of them. I have read that one in four adults in the United States suffer from high blood pressure and that many more remain unaware that they have the condition. It is aptly named The Silent Killer as was my great aunt Martha but not because she was horribly flatulent. She also smothered nine men to death in their sleep.


A better club than the Secondary Hypertension club (unless I’m terribly mistaken)

Hypertension has many causes and if you’re one of the lucky people who can attribute the condition to kidney, thyroid, adrenal gland problems or rampant substance abuse you are the proud member of the Secondary Hypertension club! It’s not the greatest club in the world but it has the benefit of being one in which your hypertension can be related to a medical condition.

If you’re one of the unfortunates who still has a functioning set of kidneys or adrenal glands then you belong to the multitude of those who suffer from Primary or Essential Hypertension so named, at least presumably, because health experts have no essential reason for its causes. Of course there are many theories regarding the factors that contribute to hypertension and most of them have been exhaustively researched and proven to some degree. At least that’s what I assume. I’m not a doctor and, in case you haven’t noticed, this is not a medical journal.

Alcohol and nicotine are thought to contribute to Essential Hypertension as well as salt. Being a fatty is also believed to cause elevated blood pressure as is being called a “fatty”. Lead poisoning is also a contributing factor and I bring it up not just to be thorough but to be timely as well. Over the past few months I have been rehabbing an older home that is chock full o’ lead. I’ve worn a mask but it turns out that it is about as useful as deterring lead as a sieve would be as a contraceptive device. Rather than dwell upon that particular oversight and the forthcoming results of the blood test to determine the level of lead in my system I will misdirect your attention to the last probable contributor to Essential Hypertension; stress.

Fortunately learning that one has high blood pressure and potential lead poisoning is not stressful in the least. I’m kidding of course. Upon learning that I had high blood pressure my body’s first reaction was to bounce up my heart rate to 180 and boost my blood pressure by another 20 points for the foreseeable future. It’s a vicious cycle and one I’m certain the pharmaceutical companies exploit.

Doctor: “Holy shit Richard it looks like your blood pressure is high!”

Myself: “My God what can I do to control it?”

Doctor: “Well for starters you could try reducing your stress.”

Myself: “How in the hell am I supposed to reduce my stress level? You’ve just told me that I have high blood pressure.”

Doctor: “You could also reign in your drinking and your ‘occasional’ smoking.”

Myself: “Stop talking you’re going to give me a fucking stroke!”

Doctor: “There is also a pill you could take. It might also render you impotent, incontinent, illiterate…”

Myself: “I’ll take it and while you’re writing out a scrip I could probably use an industrial strength prescription for Xanax.”


“Take five of these, every two hours, and call me in the morning.”

Perhaps I’m being a bit pessimistic but, then again, I’m probably just being American. Rather than invest in therapy or learning how to meditate most of my fellow citizens prefer to have our easy fix in the form of a pill. I’m not judging, well actually yes I am, but I’m as guilty as anyone of this lifestyle and perhaps even more so than most. I want my cake, my booze and smokes but I want my health too. The question is where do I go from here? Assuming of course that I don’t have a fatal dose of lead in my system in which case the question is moot*

*In the event of my untimely death I’d like to be composted and buried in my backyard.

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