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Do You Have Financial Hypertension?

April 8, 2013

Do you have financial hypertension?

IF a person’s blood pressure goes beyond the normal 120/80 mmHg, it indicates hypertension. The numerator represents the systolic blood pressure; the denominator, diastolic blood pressure.

When the heart beats, it contracts and pushes blood through the arteries to the rest of the body. This force creates pressure on the arteries. This is called the systolic blood pressure.

A normal systolic blood pressure is below 120. If it goes 140 or higher, it means the person has hypertension, or high blood pressure. If it is between 120 and 140, it means the person has pre-hypertension, or borderline high blood pressure. People with this condition have a higher risk of developing heart disease.

Blood pressure is measured with a device known as the sphygmomanometer. When taking a person’s blood pressure, the doctor will use a stethoscope to listen to the blood moving through an artery.

The sphygmomanometer is raised to a pressure level higher than systolic blood pressure. As the pressure gradually decreases, the whoosing sound heard through the stethoscope is the systolic blood pressure. When this sound goes away, that indicates diastolic blood pressure.

When a person ages, his/her blood pressure starts to go up. Contributing factors include genetics, lack of exercise, and a poor diet and lifestyle.

Similarly, when a person starts earning money after graduation, his/her income becomes higher than his/her expenses. The income is similar to the systolic blood pressure; the expenses, the diastolic. At this stage, his/her financial blood pressure is normal. But as he/she starts getting promoted and his/her salary increases, his/her financial blood pressure begins to rise. At this stage, his/her expenses become the systolic blood pressure; the income, the diastolic. This can be attributed to:

1. Inherited behavior. Having financial high blood pressure can be inherited, just like high blood pressure. More often than not, the way we handle our finances reflects the way our parents handled theirs. When I was a child, I saw how well my father managed his finances. Remember the TV commercial that says in the end: “Kung ano ang ginagawa ng matatanda, sa mga mata ng bata ay nagiging tama?” Naturally, I copied what he did. Now that I’m a father myself, I can see my kids putting money into their piggy bank as early as 5 years old because they see me drop my loose change into my own piggy bank.

2. Lack of financial exercise. Without proper exercise, we do our hearts an injustice. We need to exercise to help the heart become efficient in distributing enough blood and oxygen to the body. By not exercising, we will have high blood pressure, and this will strain the heart. The same holds true for our finances. The exercise we need here is proper financial training. Without it, we won’t make enough money to meet our financial needs.

3. Poor diet and lifestyle. The most common cause of poor health is a poor diet. A person gets heart disease by eating a lot of fatty foods, as well as drinking and smoking too much. In short, a person abuses his/her body by consuming whatever looks and tastes delightful. When it comes to our finances, many of us spend our paychecks carelessly once we get them. We spend on things we want, not on what we really need. Buying things we don’t need is just like eating all the unhealthy food that can destroy our bodies. This will result in expenses overcoming income, and consequently in taking out loans. If the result of high blood pressure is a heart attack or stroke, then a loan is the heart attack or stroke brought about by high financial blood pressure.

If your blood pressure is 140/90 or higher, you should consult your doctor for advice. If the same happens to your finances, you should consult a financial expert and get proper advice. In both situations, sacrifice and discipline are needed if you want your blood pressure—medical and otherwise—back to normal.


Edmund Lao is a registered financial planner of RFP Philippines. To learn more about financial planning, attend its free personal finance talk at the Philippine Stock Exchange Center in Ortigas Center, Pasig City, at 7 p.m. on April 11. E-mail to reserve or visit


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