Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Importance of Monitoring Blood Pressure

Yesterday was another example of the importance of monitoring Blood Pressure Readings for those folks taking blood pressure medication. I feel really lucky that Mom has only a couple of prescription medications to take regularly. For someone who is 85 plus years old, she's in an enviable position to most seniors whose daily pill regime is complex and confusing.

Mom takes 5 mg of Amlodipine (substituted for Norvasc) to help control her hypertension, or high blood pressure. It's only been in the past few years that she's needed this medication. But it comes with its own lengthy script on cautions, side effects and warnings. I've become to a small degree skilled in reading the "normal" ranges and what to worry about when the readings rise or fall.

So when Mom called me at 8am last week and said she'd been monitoring her blood pressure since 5am and it was "high" my first question was "How high?" She told me it had been at 184/96 which is ALARMINGLY high when it's supposed to be controlled with the medication.  I went across the street and took my own wrist cuff monitor to be sure it wasn't a problem with the equipment or the batteries. A couple of hours later and about 10 repeated readings on all three of our monitors showed her readings to be nearly normal.

We went to our family doctor yesterday and the Nurse Assistant took the reading which I immediately repeated with Mom's wrist cuff device to compare the results. The nurse got 114/60 (which is good!) and I got 140/64 which is a tad bit high on the systolic (upper reading). Normal BP should fall in the 90-120 range. So I immediately thought that our machine was off. Not so.

When Doctor Hussey retook the reading moments later, the systolic was around 150 which is Not Good. He sent us home with some samples of a new prescription which combines Mom's previous Amlodipine with another added ingredient to help stabilize the pressure. In two weeks she needs to go back for a Potassium evaluation (draw blood) since this Rx sometimes affects Potassium negatively. Oh boy. So now, we wait and see how she does on the new meds.


  1. It's a bummer using the Amlodipine! that is what I take. However, it is working much better for me than my recent problems with Toprol. The doc said Toprol is excellent for blood pressure, but hard on the lungs. after repeated respiratory issues and I now have asthma, he changed it to Amlodipine 10mg. Now I am gaining weight, and feel so tired!
    Great post, and very informative,Peg. ~~~Jackie

  2. Jackie! The warnings on side effects from medications are never ending. Has your Doctor considered putting you on something not so strong? I'll post the new med that Mom is using now, so far with very little difficulty. She was on the 10MG and it was too strong. Hope your BP gets regulated soon and you get your strength back. Thanks for stopping by and for your comments.