I’m never too certain of dentists outside the United States, so always save my dental checkups for visits back across the pond. It leaves me with longer between appointments than I would like, and no backups if there is a tooth emergency, but my comforts is much higher.
This visit, the hygienist started with a blood pressure check. She used an Omron wrist monitor, an inexpensive unit that we had evaluated and discarded as insufficiently reliable for clinical use back when I was a research director for Physio-Control. True to expectation, the monitor gave me a 145/110 reading.
The hygienist looked concerned and repeated the measure; I was underwhelmed. ‘Its something to get checked,’ she insisted. I explained why I discounted the result, why I disliked the Omron, and that my blood pressure was normally a healthy 110/70.
Nonetheless, it nagged.
So, I went to the Safeway and checked against the cuff testing station at the pharmacy. 140/105. Twice.
I am not a particularly high-risk candidate for hypertension: I don’t use salt, watch my weight, exercise, no smoking, lots of vegetables. The only risk factors are really age, stress, coffee, and alcohol. It was hard to imagine that my stress level had gone up by that amount in a year, but the data was, unfortunately, consistent.
Nonetheless, I made the appointment at Virginia Mason and then got a bit melancholy about the indignities of expat entrepreneurship.
The doctor listened to my story, then ran a right and left arm clinical measurement with a cuff and stethoscope. She listened to my heart and my carotids. She thumped my chest a couple of times. Then, sShe made notes and smiled: ‘You’re healthier than I am, honestly.’
Blood pressure was around 110/70, each arm (the lower number is the important one, and should be less than 100 mm Hg, always). No murmurs in the heart, no sounds in the carotids. No cause for concern, keep doing what you are doing, and try to cut down on stress.
I wrote a note to the dentist, saying that he might consider taking the wrist monitor out of service. Its not a training issue, it’s a device issue. A nice note returned, saying that he was withdrawing it anyway for the same concerns.
‘just the diversion I needed a few days before Christmas.