On the Pressures of Measuring Blood Pressure and All That Jazz
Hi! Here’s a quick question. This exercise requires you to say the first thing that comes to your mind. Answer in a jiffy if you want to be honest with yourself! :
Q. What’s the value for normal blood pressure in an adult?
What? 120/80 mm Hg? Congratulations, you’re so wrong! Wait a minute, hold your horses!
Not as per the British Hypertension Society (BHS), it isn’t. The BHS defines normal BP as <130/<85 mm Hg. The JNC-7 report, on the other hand, calls <120/<80 mm Hg normal BP. (That value, by the way, is optimal according to the BHS.) In any case, 120/80 mm Hg per se, is not the right answer (though this value would be classified under normal by BHS guidelines). Note also that 120/80 mm Hg would NOT be classified under normal by the JNC-7 report.
In an era where precision and accuracy in medical affairs are paramount, this exercise underscores the importance of not being too quick in jumping to an answer without first looking up the pertinent guidelines, no matter how trivial the question. Evidence Based Medicine (EBM) is here to stay and as we find our memories inundated with cut-offs and criteria of all shapes, sizes, colors and forms, from the diagnosis and management of banalities like fever to that of more remarkable scourges such as asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, neoplasms and beyond, we must strive to keep that going if we are to look toward the future. This may not be very good for your mental health, but remember, it’s not you who we care about. The patient’s interest is always first!! 😛 As things start to get more and more complex and tougher to retain, it’s quite likely that we will have to take our dependence on computers a step higher in order to efficiently manage the information overload. Which brings us to medical informatics. But I won’t delve into that now. Perhaps in another post. 🙂
Your comments are always welcome. Sayonara for now! 🙂
“Millions saw the apple fall, but Newton was the one who ASKED WHY.”
~ Bernard Mannes Baruch
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