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  1. #1
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    Caffeine and Blood Pressure for 50+ers

    Ten days ago I visited my doctor for a check-up. Everything was fine except my BP was 160/90. Doctor said, based on my recent history of good BP, this was not a "good reading" and that I seemed stressed. He asked me to relax and come back in a week for another reading.

    I still cannot imagine what I was stressed over, but for the last week (on the advice of my wife) I completely eliminated caffeine from my diet - I had been drinking lots of diet soda and coffee.

    Today's reading 110/60. I know caffeine can raise BP, but by THAT much?

    Your thoughts?

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    My BP will vary by 20-30 points from day to day, for no apparent reason. It's normally about 130/85, but will be as low as 110/60 or as high as 160/100. I drink two or three cups of coffee a day, decaf about half the time, and decaf diet soda when it's available, regular when it's not, maybe one a day on average. I haven't noticed that caffeine intake affects it, but I haven't really been looking for that. In any case, some variation is normal, and you might have made other changes without realizing it while you were restricting your caffeine.
    FWIW, if you get a grinder and grind your own coffee beans, french roast decaf isn't bad, or you can mix beans 50-50.

  3. #3
    Cycle Year Round CB HI's Avatar
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    Be really suspicious about any single blood pressure reading. Many of the new automatic machines have problems for certain people. I lift a lot of weights. Having strong biceps cause the automatic machines to read high, especially when they us the small pressure cuff.

    I have had a nurse read BP with the machine at 155/100 and then the doctor do it 10 minutes later with the old style and larger cuff getting a reading of 120/75.

    Imagine being put on BP medicine due to an automatic machine when you have a normal BP. Start out with a normal resting BP 120/75 and possibly end up with a medicated BP of 90/40. Dangerous.

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    Senior Member NOS88's Avatar
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    Changes of 25 to 30% within a given day are considered normal ( http://highbloodpressure.about.com/o...ure-swings.htm ). Caffeine, stress and other factors can contribute, but if I had a change like the one you describe, I don't think I'd wait a full week to have it checked again.
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    I monitor my BP twice a day. My average over the last nine months is 112/72, but I've seen it spike as high as 150 right before doing something demanding. Example: before flying boss on business trip (last week) - 150/80. Before flying family to beach for Memorial Day weekend (today) - 96/70. These two days were similar in that I did not ride to work. I may have felt the same on both mornings, but the numbers show one was more stressful than the other.

    A home BP monitor won't be as accurate as the one in the doctor's office, but it costs only about $100 and as the only way to understand what your BP is really doing. I've found that the two variables that most affect my BP are stress and whether I just rode my bike.

    Paul

  6. #6
    rebmeM roineS JanMM's Avatar
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    Any single BP reading is practically meaningless.

    A single hi or lo reading should result in further readings and never in medication.
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    The cat says Merry Xmas Pamestique's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CB HI View Post
    Imagine being put on BP medicine due to an automatic machine when you have a normal BP. Start out with a normal resting BP 120/75 and possibly end up with a medicated BP of 90/40. Dangerous.
    That happened to me exactly. I argued with my new doctor my BP was normal (120/80) but in her office it read 135/90. Now that wasn't bad to begn with but I let her placed me on BP meds. Fast forward 2 years - what a mess that has been. The meds caused me to stop riding and gain weight that of course elevated my BP - vicious cycle. I finally got my act together, lost the weight I gained and am back to my normal BP 120/80 although at times it has been 110/64 or as high as 170/110. One reason why a resting BP is preferable.

    BTW the first day I took the BP meds my BP dropped to 90/47. Trust me, not a good feeling. I spent the day trying not to pass out. I adjusted the dosage downwards and then at least stayed awake.

    I just wish doctors would mind their own business and let me be!!!
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    Senior Member George's Avatar
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    Mine always goes up in the DR. office. I'm usually around 105 over 60 with no meds. I never did drink coffee, beer that's another story.
    George

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    Senior Member BengeBoy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Louis View Post
    for the last week.... I completely eliminated caffeine from my diet -
    This, I could not do.

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    A big cup of coffee will raise my BP by about 10 points. I have a feeling that 160/90 was an aberration if you have never experienced that before.

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    Very interesting comments, keep 'em coming. Thanks.

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    But on the road more MTBLover's Avatar
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    BP is often elevated in the doctor's office- it's called "white coat hypertension" and reflects nervousness and apprehension experienced by patients just by being in the examination room. It's well documented, and no doc worth his/her salt would/should treat someone on the basis of a single reading. Pam, I'm glad to hear that you took matters into your own hands and everything turned out alright- eventually.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PaulH View Post
    I monitor my BP twice a day. ....
    A home BP monitor won't be as accurate as the one in the doctor's office, but it costs only about $100 and as the only way to understand what your BP is really doing.l
    If you're a veteran (certainly possible here in the Geezer Forum), the VA will give you a BP monitor. I signed up for VA care when i took a forced buyout and lost my company insurance, and on the first visit they sent me down to the pharmacy and handed me one. You don't have to be a lifer--I just did three years in the '60s. The care so far has been excellent, by the way. I have a couple of chronic conditions, not serious but worth watching, and my civilian cardiologist and neurologist both have praised the VA docs.
    Just out of curiosity, why do you check your BP so often? My cardiologist discourages doing it more than once a day or every other day lest it become an obsession.

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    If I did not drink coffee- the blood pressure of the people I work with would go way high for working with a grumpy old git.
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    Small Member maddmaxx's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CB HI View Post
    Be really suspicious about any single blood pressure reading. Many of the new automatic machines have problems for certain people. I lift a lot of weights. Having strong biceps cause the automatic machines to read high, especially when they us the small pressure cuff.

    I have had a nurse read BP with the machine at 155/100 and then the doctor do it 10 minutes later with the old style and larger cuff getting a reading of 120/75.

    Imagine being put on BP medicine due to an automatic machine when you have a normal BP. Start out with a normal resting BP 120/75 and possibly end up with a medicated BP of 90/40. Dangerous.
    Good looking nurse?

  16. #16
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    Sensitivities to various foods, drinks, and chemical compounds vary considerably by individual. You have probably found a good reason to avoid caffeine, but others may be able to handle it just fine.

    I do concur with all of the comments regarding the wide variance in any individual's BP and the very real "white coat syndrome."
    "Early to bed, early to rise. Work like hell, and advertise." -- George Stahlman
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    Cycle Year Round CB HI's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by maddmaxx View Post
    Good looking nurse?
    You might be on to something here, BUT in the wrong direction. As I think back, most of the nurses that read a high BP on me, were neither charming or good looking.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by George View Post
    Mine always goes up in the DR. office. I'm usually around 105 over 60 with no meds. I never did drink coffee, beer that's another story.
    I would say, KEEP UP THE BEER
    Bike to live, live to eat!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pamestique View Post
    That happened to me exactly. I argued with my new doctor my BP was normal (120/80) but in her office it read 135/90. Now that wasn't bad to begn with but I let her placed me on BP meds. Fast forward 2 years - what a mess that has been. The meds caused me to stop riding and gain weight that of course elevated my BP - vicious cycle. I finally got my act together, lost the weight I gained and am back to my normal BP 120/80 although at times it has been 110/64 or as high as 170/110. One reason why a resting BP is preferable.

    BTW the first day I took the BP meds my BP dropped to 90/47. Trust me, not a good feeling. I spent the day trying not to pass out. I adjusted the dosage downwards and then at least stayed awake.

    I just wish doctors would mind their own business and let me be!!!
    AMEN!

    I frequently have to remind the providers at the clinic I use that I'm the one in charge of my health, not them. Being a clinic I seldom get the same provider on sequential visits. So it is a never ending educational process.

    Plus, standards have changed over the years. What used to be normal for a given age is now considered high or threshold. Enough time hasn't gone by for me to be sure the new standards aren't the latest medical fad and in fact do contribute to better health and fitness.

    That said, be very sure you aren't in denial about your status.

  20. #20
    Happy Rider
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    coffee makes my bp go out of sight.
    Bike to live, live to eat!!

  21. #21
    OM boy cyclezen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Louis View Post
    Ten days ago I visited my doctor for a check-up. Everything was fine except my BP was 160/90. Doctor said, based on my recent history of good BP, this was not a "good reading" and that I seemed stressed. He asked me to relax and come back in a week for another reading.
    I still cannot imagine what I was stressed over, but for the last week (on the advice of my wife) I completely eliminated caffeine from my diet - I had been drinking lots of diet soda and coffee.
    Today's reading 110/60. I know caffeine can raise BP, but by THAT much?
    Your thoughts?
    check whats in the diet soda, if aspartame (Splenda and many of the other sweeteners are just as deadly in their own way); high blood pressure has be linked to it in many cases. Personally, I noted a consistent drop in BP when I got off the diet soda kick quite some years back (along with other health 'improvements').
    coffee and diet soda are completely different substances, even though both might have caffeine...

    just sayin...
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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by BengeBoy View Post
    This, I could not do.
    If you tried, they'd run you out of Seattle with torches and pitchforks, wouldn't they?
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  23. #23
    Senior Member ntime60's Avatar
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    4 years ago the DR. caught me at 170/110 when I broke my ankle. I've been on a beta blocker and an ACE inhibitor since. Honestly it makes me feel clamped when I try to exercise. Which is the whole reason I am biking in the first place. I want to lose weight and get off the drugs.

    The thing is, I like Pepsi, I drink 4-6 12 oz cans a day. Yeah, I know, but it's my last vice. ;-) I can get down to 3 a day before I get into the caffeine withdraws or maybe it's the sugar. All I know, if I go below 3 a day I get jittery and irritable.

    So my life style changes so far have been a better diet, stop smoking and now I'm adding biking. So what's a good way to get off Pepsi slowly?
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  24. #24
    Road Nazi Hunter Donegal's Avatar
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    Eliminate all artificial sweeteners. I generally have a bp around 110-115 over 70-75. At my Doctor's office, one day, Ihad bp of 190/130. The next day at the doctors office, 96/69. I was immediately scheduled for a stress test and told to watch my diet.

    I was drinking my coffee in the morning with splenda for about a year. My heart rate was getting pretty sporadic. I got on my bike one day at 115, hit 130 at the end of the driveway and 155 by the end of the street.

    To make a long story short, I quit using any artificial sweeteners. Within 2 days, bp and heart rate numbers returned to normal. I have had absolutely no problems since. I am sure that the splenda was the source of all my problems. I really push it sometimes and after my stress test, I asked the doctor how hard I can go. He told me "Go kill myself!" Since he is a cyclist, I appreciated the bolster of confidence.

    Since then, I really avoid any chemicals, I have returned to straight sugar in my coffee with no side effects.
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