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Hairy Bikers BP

UPDATE: The show’s producer got in touch to tell me she was massively disinterested in any big-picture message warping. “I just shot what Roy Taylor said. Dave and Si were both on medication for high blood pressure. Following alterations in their way of cooking, living, exercising and thinking, they are no longer taking the pills.”

Fair enough.

Yesterday, I watched one episode of the food show from fellow “Geordies” Si King and Dave Myers in which they expounded the benefits of exercise and calorie reduction for weight loss. So far, so good. They had Newcastle University’s Roy Taylor tracking their weight, blood pressure and body fat too to validate what was being said.

Dave, apparently dropped from 39% body fat to 26%, while Si reduced his from 42% to 31%, or thereabouts all within a few weeks. They said this was through swapping their infamous motorbikes for pedal cycles and cutting out the calories. They may well have done although at the end of the episode I believe they suggested that Si had lost less than 7 kg, and Dave had dropped 15kg or so…

When they measured their blood pressure after a short burst of exercise Professor Roy told Dave that his BP was 102 over 70. That’s very good for a guy who said he’d been taking an ACE inhibitor to reduce high blood pressure. Now, being overweight/obese certainly shows an association with high blood pressure, although some people can be in the normal weight range and have essential hypertension too, because of genetics.

However, for him to have been given medication to lower his blood pressure, it would have had to have been above the UK’s NICE guidelines on prescribing such meds. The threshold for being medicated is to have BP consistently above 140/90. By reducing his weight by about 15kg in two months or so he dropped BP from at least 140/90 to 102/72. That’s a very big a drop, even generously assuming that he was borderline for the prescription. A more realistic lowering would be from 140/90 to around 130/80. That is feasible, plausible and certainly possible with significant weightloss, exercise and perhaps more importantly a substantial reduction in sodium (salt) intake.

I realise anecdote is not evidence, but I have personally observed a reduction in my BP of around 15% on the top line having reduced my salt daily intake. But, Dave, he saw a drop of almost 30%, assuming he was at the low end of hypertension when he was medicated. In the show, Dave suggested he might stop taking his medication and the Prof added the caveat that he ought to check with his doctor first.

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