AMA says we all need a blood pressure monitor

Blood pressure varies during the day, just like blood sugar. Only by knowing your pattern can you deal effectively with it. You can't learn your pattern in your doctor's office. You need to check it yourself, and monitor it over time.

Omron blood pressure monitorI have had a blood pressure cuff for nearly a decade.

The American Heart Association says this week I've been very smart.

All the 78 million of us with high blood pressure should be measuring it regularly, at home, using a cuff-like device such as my Omron unit to the right.

Why? Blood pressure varies during the day, just like blood sugar. Only by knowing your pattern can you deal effectively with it. You can't learn your pattern in your doctor's office. You need to check it yourself, and monitor it over time.

In my own case, I've learned that a morning workout will, with medication, protect me from hypertension, so much that a little coffee may be needed later in the day. I also need to eat, regularly, including proteins, or my pressure will skyrocket.

I'm lucky. I can tell when my pressure is up. I feel hot, my face gets red, I start losing my temper, and sometimes I just need to lie down.

Most people can't see these signs. That's why high blood pressure is called the "silent killer." It kills more people every year than cancer -- a lot more.

There is other big news on the blood pressure front. A new study shows diuretics make a good first-choice drug for hypertension. My own doctor notes a 30-minute workout provides the same benefit.

There's also a new test from Belgium which can detect when the coating around the LDL cholesterol in your blood is being degraded, which can lead directly to plaque and a heart attack.

So take your blood pressure. Learn your patterns. Make the little adjustments you need to keep it within bounds.

On this Memorial Day, choose to live.