Not enough info for you? Geek out on blood pressure and hypertension with these studies and stats from the most trusted sources on the interwebs. And if you have any questions or you think we missed something important, leave a comment or book a consultation with me or one of these trained medical professionals and we’ll answer your questions and concerns in no time.
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Blood pressure isn’t just a number. Chronically elevated blood pressure (hypertension) significantly increases your risk of heart disease, stroke, congestive heart failure, erectile dysfunction, eye disease (retinopathy), and kidney disease. Heart disease and stroke are two of the top five causes of death in the US (heart disease is #1), and hypertension is such a big contributor to both that the CDC claims hypertension was at least partially responsible for 410,000 deaths in the US in 2014.
^ Qaseem, A; Wilt, TJ; Rich, R; Humphrey, LL; Frost, J; Forciea, MA; Clinical Guidelines Committee of the American College of Physicians and the Commission on Health of the Public and Science of the American Academy of Family, Physicians. (21 March 2017). "Pharmacologic Treatment of Hypertension in Adults Aged 60 Years or Older to Higher Versus Lower Blood Pressure Targets: A Clinical Practice Guideline From the American College of Physicians and the American Academy of Family Physicians". Annals of Internal Medicine. 166 (6): 430–437. doi:10.7326/m16-1785. PMID 28135725.
The guidelines also redefined the various categories of hypertension. It eliminated the category of prehypertension, which had been defined as systolic blood pressure of 120 to 139 mm Hg or diastolic pressure (the lower number in a reading) of 80 to 89 mm Hg. Instead, people with those readings are now categorized as having either elevated pressure (120 to 129 systolic and less than 80 diastolic) or Stage 1 hypertension (130 to 139 systolic or 80 to 89 diastolic).
Metformin (prescribed to treat type 2 diabetes) can cause excessive gas and bloating, heartburn, headaches, a cough, muscle pain and a metallic taste in the mouth, but these side effects typically ease after a few weeks. Very rarely, metformin may cause a serious condition called lactic acidosis. Key signs include weakness, trouble breathing, abnormal heartbeat, unusual muscle pain, stomach discomfort, lightheadedness and feeling cold. You're more at risk if you have reduced kidney function, worsening congestive heart failure or are dehydrated.
If your blood pressure is always on the low side and you do not have any of the above symptoms, there is usually no cause for concern. Similarly, if you have a single at-home blood pressure reading that is abnormally low without any symptoms, you probably do not need to see your doctor. It is normal for your blood pressure to rise and fall over time, and your body is usually able to get your blood pressure back to normal.
The FDA most recently revised its prescribing information on metformin in 2016. Current advice is that metformin is contraindicated in people with 1) severe renal impairment (estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) below 30 mL/min/1.73 m2); 2) known hypersensitivity to metformin; or 3) acute or chronic metabolic acidosis, including diabetic ketoacidosis, with or without coma. Warnings are also given regarding the use of metformin in less severe renal impairment, people aged 65 years old or greater, hypoxic states (e.g., acute congestive heart failure), excessive alcohol intake, hepatic impairment, concomitant use of certain drugs (e.g. carbonic anhydrase inhibitors such as topiramate), surgery and other procedures, or in people having a radiological study with administration of an iodinated contrast agent. Metformin is recommended to be temporarily discontinued before any procedure involving use of iodinated contrast agents, (such as a contrast-enhanced CT scan or angiogram) due to the increased risk of lactic acidosis resulting from impaired renal function; metformin can be resumed after two days after contrast administration, if renal function is adequate and stable. It is recommended that all people receiving metformin should have their renal function (eGFR) measured at least annually and more frequently in those at higher risk of developing renal impairment.