High Blood Pressure as a Foundation for Connectivity: Telling The Story Via Cartoon

I am experimenting with storyboarding using cartoons to help people visualize how to connect Californians to better management of a chronic condition. The goal is for potential partners and patients to see the value of a program like this, and add their input based on technical and clinical knowledge. Full storyline coming…working on getting patient involvement. On that note, is there anyone out there managing high blood pressure that would like to be a patient advisor?

hypertension cartoon


I've got mild high blood pressure when untreated. It became normal when my cancerous kidney was removed, but dagnabbit, life is so back to normal now that it makes me a mite tense again. 🙂 Just went back on mild medication.

And no, I don't mind that the whole world knows.

May I interview you here on this blog about your experience with high blood pressure, Dave?

Dude, I'm gonna start charging rent on my body. (Actually that was a fantasy I had once. But I digress.)

Go for it. Just one caveat and one request.

The caveat: in the morning I board a plane for Nashville, where my men's chorus is competing in the world championships of barbershop singing. (Yes there's a choral version of the "barbershop quartet," and my guys are the best in the Northeast.) So I will be, like, busy.

The request: let's make sure this conversation evolves in a way that makes a difference to all sorts of readers.

And I'll tell you upfront, my Connected Health fantasy for this is that I have a Pleo-like pet that sniffs me out (or just sits next to my easy chair) and wraps itself around me daily (or, heck, does it on command) and takes the pressure. Then it WiFis the data to my router (or maybe the cute little thing has a blue tooth) and uploads to the mother ship, where mega-crunch software keeps an eye on things. And, like, they like call me if I need attention, and not unless.

Dave, I wouldn't have it any other way…I happen to be going on my semi-annual Internet holiday, which will go through mid-July, we can start this then….more patient input is better.

I am 41 years old, mother of four boys. I hike and or run 4-6 times a week. I eat relatively healthy staying away from pho's and high fructose corn syrup, I eat fruits and vegatables and drink skim milk. I was diagnosed with hypertension when I went to a urgent care center because I thought I was having a reaction to a spider bite I woke up with on my neck. My highest bp reading was 180/110. I am now on a beta blocker which seems to have controlled my bp. So, am I now a "lifer" on bp medication?

Hi Bridget,

Great story – I would ask you back a few questions:

1. What do you know about whether this is a lifetime proposition from your doctor or other sources? What did they tell you or did you look up things on your own?

2. How do you tell how well your blood pressure is controlled? Do you check at home or do you go in to the doctor to have it checked?

3. If you don't do it on your own, how willing would you be to do it that way if it was recommended – for example to check it twice a day at home for 7 days. Would you see that as something useful to do or would you not be motivated to do that?

Thanks again, and for our readers' benefit, Bridget has known me since long before I became a doctor, when we worked together at a community hospital, whose policy was that any disrespect to physicians was grounds for termination. I learned a lot about respecting people in that place, with Bridget as one of my best teachers. It is an amazing fact of the blogosphere that she is able to teach me again 20 years later…

Ted Eytan, MD