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Obsessed about my blood pressure
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Obsessed about my blood pressure

I have for the last year suffered from labile hypertension which means, up at stressful times ie doctors and normal most of the day. The problem is that I constantly worry and check my blood pressure that It has caused me to be stressed out which increases anxiety and of course drive the blood pressure up. I regularly have irrational thoughts like " What is my BP now" or " I think it is high now" during many activities like, walking, cooking , eating. I have become a compulsive checker and have an intense fear of dying from a cardiovascular event, not any other disease though.

Has anyone else had similar issues and somehow overcame it. I have tried unsuccessfully with many breathing techniques , yet I breathe too rapidly and erratically and this does contribute to the anxiety and compulsions. Please help .
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Avatar_m_tn
I am in the exact same position as you.  I had suffered my first panic attack in my mid 20's and I thought I was having a heart attack.  This cycle continued and despite reassurances about my health I did not believe it.  I got out of the panic cycle for years, but it returned this year.

My fear is based around my heart health as welll and it started with a check up at the doc's office when my bp was high.  I started getting really concerned and went from pharmacy to pharmacy checking it at the automated cuffs and naturally it was high while at home it would be lower, but my mind tends to hold onto the high numbers.  For example, my bp was 162/93 at the docs when I first showed up and it justified in my mind that something is wrong, even though it dropped 30 points before I left. (Never mind it is lower at home).  

So, I have started to see a therapist about it and I went on some medication while I am going through this cycle.  In my experience, talking it through with a 'professional' is the best way to deal with it.  By understanding anxiety and obsessive tendicies, it is much easier to deal with this pattern of thinking.  While, I am still scared, I understand this pattern of thinking.  Too often, I tend to 'sort' and hold onto the higher numbers.  I still wonder what it is most of the time, but my doc is not worried and breaking this cycle is very hard to do, but it can be done!

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Avatar_f_tn
Hi cj29,

Thank you for your response. You are right about the numbers thing, never mind the low readings, I only focus on the high readings and worse imagine it going even higher and panicking myself even more - some sort of brain lock. But how exactly do you cope when you are in that obsessive state and how do you get out of it. I have a blood pressure monitor at home  and I don't want to get rid of it as I will freak out but somehow I have to get out of this cycle of not caring how high it gets or whether I die or not, where it matters no more. I am not sure whether you have read Claire Weekes books but she talks about true recovery when you get to that stage where it doesn't matter.

I've worked with a therapist one of the best in Australia who got me to do worry stories where I kept on visualising the worst case scenario daily ie dying by stroke and heart attacks etc but I think I got really in bad shape after weeks of this theraphy.

Tried hypnosis which helps to a certain degree but really needs constant work daily and I am too preoccupied with my checking obsession.


So , do you have any tips on how to break this cycle where the readings and consequenses no longer matter. And also why does one focus on the high readings and not on the low readings. Is it a case that we tend to look at life pessimistically and need to train our brain to ignore bad thoughts, messages and train our brain to look more positively. Is it all a habit thing that can be changed, If you have further clues please respond.

Thank you again.
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447939_tn?1235065543
my therapist told me the reason why we take our blood pressure, pulse etc is a re-assurance thing if its ok we feel ok but if its high it`s like a nightmare so the best thing is to try and not do it (easier said than done) i have limited myself to only taking my pulse once a day which has been really hard, if its high i tell myself its cause im worryin, your BP will rise if your worried or stressed but it hasn harmed you yet!! you just have to try and get the thought out of your head good luck i hope you can manage it
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Avatar_m_tn
Well, for me breaking the cycle is not easy, but I always like to take the metered approach.  I agree with scaredjo, when I take it is for reassurance, and even though I may get the reassurance, obviously, it does not last that long.  So if you are taking it multiple times a day, say four, try doing it three times the next day and so on until you get to once a day.  After that, try every other day and so on, and go slowly; that is how I started to break the cycle; different techinques work for different people, and even though it was/is very hard to work through these compulsions, I have had fairly good success when I take a slow and steady approach.  My therapist is also very good and she supports my views and listens to my opinions which may make it a little easier as well.  

This is all just my opinion, but I find a 'slow and steady' approach to work the best for me; and do not get down on yourself if you have a bad day and regress; it happens to all of us!
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370181_tn?1408130715
I can understand your behavior regarding your blood pressure, and any one of us who "suffers" with heart anxiety will understand it as well.
You have received a great deal of good advice already and I truly believe that with a little more "work" on your part, you'll have this obsessive behavior under control.
Many of us have high BP readings at the doctors, which is where the term "White Coat BP" came from. We are anxious, so naturally our BP is going to reflect that. Most doctors will (or should) retake your BP when the exam is over as it will almost always be far more "normal" then.
Taking your BP several times a day is a bad idea. Our blood pressure fluxuates constantly throughout the day, this is VERY normal and nothing to be concerned about. It becomes a bad idea when you have a "BP phobia" because every time you sit down to take it, you're already nervous......frightened that it's going to be "high again," and guess what? It WILL be. And the next time you take it, you're even more freaked out because the LAST time you took it...........it's a no win situation.
One of the best ways to determine your "actual" BP...............and let me just add a little something here. There really is no such thing as an "actual" BP. What you are going to get is an "actual RANGE" that is normal for YOU. Nobody has exactly the same BP every single time it's taken. What they DO have is a normal range. For instance, MY BP usually runs "around" 118/68. If I took it right now, it might read 120/70. Tomorrow it might read 115/62, the next day, if my dog got hit by a car, it might soar to 130/80! Way out of my normal range but considering the circumstances, the anxiety, the fear.....this would be OK. (I wouldn't want it to stay there, which it wouldn't once the event had resolved itself) But you see what I mean? So here is a plan you can try and hopefully will calm you down regarding your BP. Sorry to keep interupting myself, but I will assume you have seen your doctor and that your BP is not a medical concern at the moment, aside from your obsessing about it?
OK, heres the plan, but you gotta promise me you will control yourself and follow the "rules" here! No cheating with just a quick extra check!
Pick a time during the day, any time you want, but make it the same time everyday. And choose a time when you KNOW you will have about 15 minutes of total peace and quiet and time just for you. It's best, if you decide to do this in the morning, that you take your BP BEFORE you've had coffee or cigarettes, if you indulge in either of those. OK, you've chosen your time. Get your BP stuff gathered up, but set it aside. What you are going to do now is spend 15 minutes sitting (or lying) very quietly and peacefully. You might want to turn on some mellow music in the background, if you want, you can sip on a cup of de-caf tea. Pick up a "fun" magazine or a good book your reading. Don't read about all the horrible things going on in our world and for Pete's sake, do not turn on the TV and watch the news. You CAN watch something funny or interesting like the Animal Planet or the History Channel. The idea is that you are taking this 15 minutes to really relax, don't sit there and pay bills or wonder why the check book won't balance! This is peaceful time! Take nice slow deep breaths, but do NOT start thinking about what your heart is doing or you might as well just get up and forget the whole project! No heart thoughts! No worrying! After your 15 minutes of quiet time, take your BP. Enter the numbers into your little BP book. Now, put the BP stuff away and LEAVE IT THERE until tomorrow at the same time! Remember......NO CHEATING!!!!!!  Day two, repeat the same routine. Also the same on day three. Do this for ONE WEEK. At the end of that week, you will have your BP "range." My guess is that the numbers are STILL going to be higher than normal because this is a bit like aversion therapy. You are, more than likely, STILL going to be slightly freaked out during this week. Week number two will have you taking your BP every OTHER day, using the same technique as the first week. At the end of THAT week, in your little BP book, you will see a real pattern emerging. You will see that your BP is never EXACTLY the same but that it falls into a range. Week three will have you taking your BP on Saturday and Sunday only! Week four you will take your BP ONLY ONCE!
You will now have established your personal range. AND hopefully, you will have come to accept the fact that if you rush the kids off to school, drop the bills at the post office, drive like a maniac to work, work 8 stress filled hours, stop at the store for dinner on your way home, fill up the car with gas because you drove home on "fumes" which stressed you out but who has time to stop, let the dog out who has peed on the carpet because you had to stop for dinner and gas, yell at the kids to stop killing each other, or at least, do it OUTSIDE, try to get out of your work clothes and "shake and bake" at the same time, answer the phone and tell the survey taker you don't care who wins the damn election as long as they will come cook dinner for you, convince yourself the 5 second rule applies to dropped chicken parts and oh yeah, take your BP! Then call 911 cuz I promise you, after a day like you've had, it's gonna be high sister!
The next time you have that 15 minutes to yourself and you can "work the plan," you will find your BP comfortably within your personal range. From now on, take your BP about every two or three weeks at most. And don't think I won't know that you are secretly checking your pulse while your driving with the latte balanced on the dash and the cell phone glued to your head and the dog drooling on your new Easter outfit....STOP IT!
Now..............put that cuff away and go outside and play!
Peace
Greenlydia
    
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Avatar_f_tn
I don't know about anybody else but my blood pressure only started to get high once I realised what a normal blood pressure should read!!  If I didn't know it should be at or below 120/80 I'm sure it would be below it!  I take it over and over until it goes down - which it inevitably does.  Madness!!!
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1219969_tn?1266764942
we are the same i am from philipines male 23 yearsold i will always check my blood pressure..the first bp is 140 over 100 after 5minutes is going down to 110 over 80 what is happening to me?? is this anxiety attack? or pannick attcak?
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1219969_tn?1266764942
me too i feel like im goint to stroke or heart attcak and i always check my pulse rate every minute
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370181_tn?1408130715
First of all people, notice the date of the above post I made almost a YEAR ago!
You really should start a new post..........but I'll yell at you for that later. LOL
I can see that I'm gonna have to get that can of "BP Whoop Arse" out for the two of you!  
Read what I wrote way back when and pay special attention to the last sentence.
Just remember, both of you. When you're nervous and/or scared, your blood pressure will get higher and your pulse quicker.
Repeat that like a mantra every single time you take your blood pressure or check your pulse.
Peace
Greenlydia 116/65 (Three weeks ago)  
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1219969_tn?1266764942
wow this post is almost 1 year??lol
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