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 Blood Pressure
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
Rochester, NY
Joined: 28 Nov 2004
Posts: 262

Blood Pressure Posted: Wed Feb 16, 2005 1:44 pm 

I donate blood regularly through apheresis. Unlike regular whole-blood donations which remove red blood cells along with plasma, platelets, etc., with apheresis they centrifuge the blood to separate out either the plasma or the platelets, and return the rest to your body. Platelets are critical for patients undergoing chemotherapy, and I can't remember the most common uses of plasma, but you're able to get far greater quantities of both of these blood products through apheresis than normal whole blood donations. And, from a runner's point of view, it doesn't impact your performance at all since you're not losing any red blood cells.

Anyway, the point of this is that the last time I donated back in January I was alarmed to find that my blood pressure was 118/82. That 2nd number is borderline high, and I've always figured that with all my running I must be near bullet-proof with respect to blood pressure concerns - especially when my pulse was about 60 at the same moment. I asked about it, and they said that the high figure could have been caused by a number of factors - including caffeine. I'd chugged down several cups of coffee that morning before donating, so I hoped that that was indeed the issue, since I didn't remember any high blood pressure readings in the past.

Well, this morning I donated again after avoiding all coffee for the morning, and my blood pressure was a much happier 100/60, so I guess running really does help after all! Anyone else ever have any similar blood pressure scares? I'd have hated to have given up my potato chips and other unhealthy foods!

Runworks 2005 5M Racer
San Francisco, CA
Joined: 26 Nov 2004
Posts: 1157

Re: Blood Pressure Posted: Wed Feb 16, 2005 2:20 pm 

I don't have the faintest idea what my blood pressure is. Like you, I kind of assumed that with all my running, it must be OK.

Interesting about apheresis. Wouldn't that process still lower your overall blood volume though, even if it didn't take away red blood cells? I would think that would still impact your athletic performance.

Runworks 2005 5M Racer
Rochester, NY
Joined: 28 Nov 2004
Posts: 262

Re: Blood Pressure Posted: Wed Feb 16, 2005 2:42 pm 

They replace any lost blood products with some kind of liquid volume replacement. Maybe I could ask them to use Gatorade?! I'm sure there's actually some negative impact on performance, but nothing that I can't handle during a normal training week. I don't donate within 3 weeks of a marathon.


Cambridge, MA
Joined: 08 Dec 2004
Posts: 46

Re: Blood Pressure Posted: Wed Feb 16, 2005 4:04 pm 

I have a couple of friends who are serious runners, and they both donate platelets pretty regularly (you can do it at least as frequently as every 6 weeks b/c it doesn't lower your blood volume or remove any red blood cells), seemingly without it affecting their running at all. But I haven't tried it.

Runworks 2005 5M Racer
Kansas, OK
Joined: 14 Dec 2004
Posts: 100

Re: Blood Pressure Posted: Thu Feb 17, 2005 11:52 am 

FWIW, 118/82 is great blood pressure. You have nothing to worry about. I don't think running affects it too much anyway (running or any other exercise). The greatest variables are: diet, % body fat, heredity and age. Mine has been been high in the past and I had to be on medication (my bottom number was about 140 at the time -- stroke range). But through exercise, diet and supplementation I have gotten off the meds and am pretty close to your "borderline high". If I don't watch it though, it will creep back up. I cannot afford to be lazy and put on 10 pounds or eat tons of bad carbs. In fact, one of my struggles is drinking things like Gatorade/Acclerade or whatever. Loaded with high GI carbs. Of couse it was designed that way for a reason. It's just that it's not great for those attempting to regulate insulin levels, etc. OK, I'm officially rambling now. GG. Good luck.

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