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The Lloyd's Pharmacy Blood Pressure Monitor is the most peculiar present I've ever been given for my birthday. I even emailed my sister and told her I thought so. She pointed out that I'm getting older and if it stops me getting a heart attack or having a stroke then it was a good present. I think she's right and I didn't mean to be ungrateful. Of course it's better to know. It's just that I was feeling quite well when she sent it and now that I've taken my blood pressure and looked everything up in the supplied chart I think I might be at death's door.
Just kidding! This is actually a great present for me. I tend to veer from dieting and long distance running to lolling about with a bottle of whisky and as much chocolate as I can find. I ended my last committed and effective diet on Christmas Day of 2006 and I'm still showing no signs of being sensible again.
Furthermore I once had a pulmonary embolism. That's caused by a blood clot in your leg freeing off, travelling up your body, and being shot through your heart into your lung. It can kill you in a couple of hours. I was lucky and it just hurt like I'd been punched in the back by 'The Terminator' for two days. That was a while ago and I'm still there when I look in the mirror. However, since then I've had other blood-clotting related problems in the same leg where my original embolism started. The first embolism was actually a serious deal and I was in hospital for two weeks. Since then a smaller occurrence put me in hospital and I had to agree to inject myself with anticoagulant in the stomach every morning for a week when I was discharged. If I'd kept the exercise up it might not have happened again. I currently have a thrombosis in my leg which aches but isn't life threatening (the doctors tell me) so they're not taking much notice. I've been scanned and poked and it's in a vein that can't lead to an embolism (it seems) though they're giving me nothing in writing like an extended guarantee on my interior piping.
The Lloyd's Pharmacy Blood Pressure Monitor is beginning to look like the best present I could possibly have isn't it? With this little machine I can keep a check on my blood pressure without going to see my GP. I can keep a record over time of the readings it comes up with and refer to the easy booklet that came with it to see if I should go mad with the creme eggs and whisky or make another appointment in case I need treatment. A lot of people have high blood pressure and don't know it. If they did then maybe they could get expert intervention in time to prevent a bad situation becoming worse.
What exactly do you get?
This unit is essentially a white plastic box with a tube coming out leading to a blue arm band. There are only two switches: Start and Power. You just have to power up, put the blue band around your arm with Velcro loose enough to get a couple of fingers in the gap, and hit the 'start' button. Don't panic the first time you use it and be prepared for some serious squeezing. You really don't want to start with it too tight because it's going to grip your upper arm like a shark. You sit without moving in as relaxed a position as possible whilst it's squeezing and then, after about a minute, it gives three clear readings. At that point the armband relaxes and you can take it off. Jot down your readings down on the thoughtfully provided cards each time you use the device.
The booklet tells us that the ideal/normal reading for your blood pressure should be over 100 but less than 129 Systolic. That's the blood pumping out of your heart. It should also be over 60 but less than 84 Diastolic - the blood coming back round to the heart. The third figure is your pulse which should ideally be between 60 and 100 in an adult.
If you consistently fall outside these operating parameters with, for example, higher Systolic and Diastolic readings than 'normal' ones, this suggests that you're 'hyper tense'. That can be 'high-normal', 'mild', 'moderate', 'severe', 'very severe' and 'thump'. I made the last one up. It's the sound of your body hitting the floor.
If you're slightly over 120/80 (which is how to express the relationship of Systolic pressure against Diastolic pressure as a convenient fraction), then the Lloyd's Pharmacy Blood Pressure Monitor Booklet suggests that you should practice a healthy lifestyle.
This is what they say.
1. Cut salt. 2. Eat more vegetables though they've probably never faced my wife's broccoli. 3. Stay trim. Okay - moving swiftly on... 4. Get exercise. 5. Drink sensibly. What - no giggling at all? 6. Stop smoking. 7. Cut fat. 8. Eat oily fish.
If the figures you get are consistently high, though, they say you should go and get checked over by your GP. A consistently high blood pressure, it seems, is putting pressure on your internal organs and making a stroke or a heart attack more likely. Given that lots of people have high blood pressure without feeling like there's anything wrong you can see how the reassurances, or even the early warning that the Lloyd's Pharmacy Blood Pressure Monitor might give, can only be good.
If you use it regularly the batteries are still good for a year. It's not a long procedure after all. The record cards will run out in a very short time, however, but they can easily be scanned or quickly imitated on a PC.
If I'd have had this odd present from my sister a few years ago I may well not have suffered a pulmonary at all. There were warnings in the form of a very swollen left foot. I was actually running round a track with my laces unable to tie up normally so my general fitness at the time gave no clue whatsoever to the blood clot that almost killed me a few days later. The big foot wasn't very normal but I just thought I'd twisted my ankle. If I'd have only had this weird present and been trying it I bet it would have shown something was very wrong with my circulation.
My GP didn't spot it for days! It was only when the situation became visible on an X-ray that I was whisked into a ward, covered in electrodes, and 'Heparinised'. They stuck a truly huge syringe in a device with a slow plunger in it into the back of my hand and that hung on the back of the bed for at least a day. Then I had to stay in a ward for two weeks and finally go through lots of outpatient aftercare. The whole experience wasn't very nice and if this device can help you avoid going through it yourself I'd recommend it highly. In this speedy world where many take their health for granted, some might say that the Lloyd's Pharmacy Blood Pressure Monitor could be a life-saver, and that that makes it potentially the best gift you could get someone.
At the time of writing this review I've seen this product on Amazon for around £15 which is spectacular value if it stops anyone having an embolism, stroke or heart-attack. n13roy tells me that Lloyd's Pharmacy are doing them at £9.99 which is even better. price of just £9:99.
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