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Struggling with High Blood Pressure

Hi,
I am a 58 y female, with no history of hypertension, although my brother and mother both do (they are also obese). I was a very active person just two years ago when I 'suddenly' developed severely high BP. After realizing what I was experiencing was HBP symptoms (stabbing pain between shoulder blades, migraines), I went to a doc and was put on Losartan. Exactly 7 days later, I started experiencing BP spikes with what I can only explain as 'adrenaline dumps' - like extreme anxiety, although it has nothing to do with anxiety. I've lived with severe anxiety before, and I had some modicum of control over it. I have zero control over what is happening to my body during these 'episodes', as I now call them.

I was healthy and very active with a good diet (much of my food is homemade due to a severe soy allergy), low salt intake, alcohol intake is very low - rarely, and I drink a lot of water daily. This stumps everyone, as I simply don't fit the 'profile' of someone that should have experienced BP troubles.

I was admitted to the hospital a year ago with BP around 234/130, had a 2-night stay, then released without having the BP or the episodes controlled. Before and while in the hospital, all kinds of meds were tried (simply can't remember them all, even the ER docs were impressed by the number of meds tried), and I came home on some that were changed repeatedly over the course of months. I am currently taking Carvedilol (25 mg), Olmesartan/hydrochlorothiazide, amitriptyline 10 mgs (seems to have helped extend the amount of time between episodes) for BP issues- other meds are for other conditions I need treated. I can list those if needed though.

I have seen, been tested by, and released by a Nephrologist, Cardiologist, and Endocrinologist. No one can find anything wrong. As a matter of fact, they are all giving glowing reports of how good things look!

However, I am starting year two with these issues, having a ton of trouble trying to get back into shape (I've gained a substantial amount of weight, muscles have deteriorated significantly, and so on) because every time my body feels "a bit too much stress", my BP spikes back up into 'stroke range' and I have to have a rescue med (Clonidine) to get me back into safe ranges again.

The one good thing is that through all of these medication changes, my average daily BP is good now (after a year of fighting it), but I still struggle with trying to improve my situation.

If this is scattered, my apologies!! My brain doesn't work as well as it used to either!

Thanks for any insights!
Traveler07
3 Responses
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Avatar universal
I take a lot of vitamins & herbs for my health.  I read that licorice was good, so I started taking it & after a couple of weeks my BP was over 200. My Dr. sent me to the ER . I was at 2 different ER's with BP over 200. I was sent home twice with BP still over 200. Anyway I started studying everything I was taking & found out that licorice and red rice yeast were very dangerous. You just have to be your own  Dr. sometimes, good luck
Helpful - 0
4 Comments
Wow, Myhelpers623. That's kind of scary.  I've been tempted before to follow online things that say try this or that.  Tumeric, garlic tabs.  Things like that.  You are right,  a doctor should guide such important matters. How is your bp now?
I am on 20 mg. of Lisinapril to keep it under control. I love turmeric and garlic. I am always looking for ideas for natural lowering of BP. I am 81 yrs and have COPD
I went back to school (online) to study herbs and learned about licorice too - in order to use it without it causing BP problems, a person would need to buy deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL). It's the glycyrrhizin in the licorice that causes BP troubles - even eating too much natural licorice can cause BP issues for some people that are sensitive to it.

I used to use a lot of herbs and supplements as well - then I started having severe issues with my BP and ended up in the hospital to get it under control, and lots of prescription meds followed. I had to promise my daughter and husband that I would take no herbs or supplements without clearing it with my Dr's first, which is what I do. There has been far too little research into herbs and their interactions with pharmaceutical drugs to just take them, in my opinion. But, I have felt more than once that I could control my issues better with herbs than with the pharmaceuticals...with less side effects too!!! In all the years of treating Lyme disease, Bartonella, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and Babesia with herbs, I never had this many side effects. LOL

Oh, and I use turmeric daily!! It really helps my arthritis! Dr approved! LOL!

Thanks for the comments!! It helps!
Thanks traveler07.  Hey, I am the community leader for the Nutrition forum and would love for you to check in there.  I'm trying to work on recipes and supplement type posts.  My big subject I'm researching right now is gut health for mental health and how to achieve that.  https://www.medhelp.org/forums/Nutrition/show/58  Hope you come chat there.  
Avatar universal
Hypertension needs no Rx if weight is under control; Beta-blockers after age 60 are counter-productive; Lasilactone 50 half a tab. relieves edema safely and finally plain salad 250gm before a meal should control calories' intake.
Helpful - 0
1 Comments
Considering my BP was 235/128, even though my weight was fine, I definitely needed RX help - and beta-blockers were the one BP med that finally helped to bring it under control. It's not a matter of reducing the amount of food I eat - I eat under 1500 calories a day as it is. So, I'm not sure what you are basing your information on, but it's completely opposite of my own experience with this so far.
973741 tn?1342342773
So, I have familial hypertension. I'm a bit overweight but not much and exercise pretty regularly.  My blood pressure still rose.  It is a genetic issue. I was put on losartin.  I didn't check my bp regularly the first month.  But after a month, my bp came down over 30 points.  Losartin blocks a hormone in the blood that can raise blood pressure. My life style was not altered AT ALL when I started taking Losartin and my blood pressure did come down.  I didn't feel good on the medication for the first two weeks.  Then things normalized.  I have no side effects at all from it.  What dose were you on and did they tell you to discontinue it? Anxiety and stress CAN raise our bp into spikes.  Do you suffer these issues? I'm currently dealing with a beyond stressful situation with one of my kids.  I am sure my bp goes up at times in the heat of those moments and my bp goes up whenever I'm at the doctor's office.  Nervousness can affect our bp.  Have you ever worked with a therapist? DBT and relaxation therapy can really help.  Yoga, meditation, stress relieving techniques and grounding can help maybe even you out.
Helpful - 0
8 Comments
Hi Specialmom! Thank you for your thoughts, I really appreciate your thoughtful response!
I  failed to mention that after the first week on Losartan, my BP numbers doubled for no known reason. I live a fairly stress-free life, and don't work outside the home, so my days are my own. Adult kids only, so not even those kinds of responsibilities.
I didn't alter my lifestyle on purpose (which was actually a very healthy one), but when these 'episodes' started, I had no choice but to stop being so active. The longer I was left on the higher dose of losartan, the worse things got, so the doctors started adding meds to help try to control the BP spikes that put me in the 'stroke zone' multiple times daily. After just over 4 weeks of multiple daily BP spikes and adrenaline dumps, they finally told me I needed to go to the ER and be admitted.
I started on 50 mgs of losartan, then 100 mgs of losartan, then other BP meds got added in to try to control my BP.
Did I feel stressed and anxious during that time? You bet! I don't know of a single person that could go through that and NOT feel stressed and anxious. I knew that my life was in danger every day - but somehow I managed to survive it. Even the doctors were a bit surprised I didn't suffer a heart attack or worse.
Now, I've had severe anxiety before (requiring daily medication), and these episodes were not like having severe anxiety - even though I knew how it looked. I had some effect on my anxiety by doing things to calm my sympathetic nervous system - but none of that worked this time.  
And now, my BP is very volatile, overreacting to things. While I do realize that it should raise at times, mine seems to really raise over minor things. A movie with a scary part (not the whole thing), can have my BP raised to dangerous levels for hours, or cause one of those episodes - so I've learned to not read or watch anything that can cause my emotions to rise much.
And, yes, my BP raises at all Dr's offices (lol), but it shouldn't raise into the stroke zone, just because I walked into the office, which is where I was until just last month. Any stress caused my BP to rise to dangerous levels.
I do!! I do yoga daily, meditation daily, I LOVE to do grounding, and I eat very healthily now (more so than before even! )
I'm still holding out hope that a cause can be found because I have no desire to go through this again, since things are just barely controlled, and I have no life (compared to before last year). I want to get back to being super active, being able to walk the hills around me again, be able to be active with our grandkids, to be able to play and chase my dogs around the yard,  and to garden to my heart's content. All of those things are things I have to avoid still this year.
Now, I am working on trying to build my body back up - I had to sit still for so long in order to stay out of the hospital due to BP spiking and staying too high, I lost a lot of muscle and muscle integrity. Just standing for long will stress out my muscles, which means my body feels the stress, which means my BP rises too high again, It's a vicious circle that I'm working on finding my way out of.
I forgot to add that I take BP readings twice a day since day one, and keep a detailed BP log.
You sound very thorough and knowledgeable. My doctor wants me to begin some medication for anxiety as it impacts my blood pressure (and makes me feel crummy). You say you are not pursuing that anymore? Does anything like hydroxyzine or another short acting, prn anxiety medication (non addictive) work for you at all? My son takes propanolol, for example. That is a bp med but he takes it for anxiety.

It is so unfortunate that this is causing such a life impact for you.  The cardiologist is at a loss? I can't imagine that there aren't others who share this type of situation.  Have other things been investigated like kidneys and lungs (also known to drive bp up)? Have you ever taken a diuretic? Have they looked into sleep apnea which can be associated with resistant hypertension. Have you had your adrenal gland checked? Hormonal issues can be another cause.  https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/high-blood-pressure-hypertension/resistant-hypertension  

I'm just thinking out loud here.
Well, I sure appreciate your thoughts!!! I've been posting on several different forums to see if anyone is dealing with something similar - and reading a ton more articles and forums - and nothing so far. For the first 8 or so months, everyone thought it had to be pheochromocytoma (an adrenal tumor) because every single symptom fit that diagnosis, but none of my tests show any of the abnormalities that would be there if I actually had an adrenal tumor.

And no, I'm not really pursuing controlling any anxiety - because I don't have any. I do take an SSRI for help with sleep (Trazodone has a heavy side effect of making you sleepy), and I am on a very low dose of amitriptyline (10mgs taken at night as well) that helps keep those 'episodes' further apart. I am now having one every 3 or 4 weeks, instead of daily).

The Cardiologist was actually really impressed with my cardiac health! Especially that I only had a 2% calcium buildup, which was lower than his and are close in age!  It's crazy.

The Endocrinologist was just certain I had an adrenal tumor - until all the tests came back in normal ranges, so he's stumped as well.

I had been poked and prodded by a Nephrologist while in the hospital - they scanned me, drew blood, and all kinds of things - assuming it was being driven by my kidneys - but everything there came back in normal ranges as well.

They did find a very, very small spot on my lungs, but I was told that if I had lived in the city, it would be much worse (due to pollution) and told me my lungs were in really good shape for my age (I hate being told that now! LOL)

We (my Dr and I) are now looking at my thyroid (all other hormones have been checked at this point), and my intestinal issues as possible causes, as well as small vessel disease and other odd-sounding things (lol) - but neither of us holds much hope for answers at this point. But I'm very grateful she hasn't written me off at this point!

I've been on and off several diuretics over the last year, and my body is responding best to the current one I'm on, Olmesartan/hydrochlorothiazide.  It is a combination of olmesartan, an angiotension receptor blocker and hydrochlorothiazide, a diuretic. I didn't show much need for a diuretic, except some slight swelling behind my ankles - but it was an attempt to better control my BP spikes, and it's helped slightly.

I am super strict with myself on medication compliance, the timing of meds (I have alarms set to be sure), and sticking with any routines I can to help improve my daily life - like moving around! LOL. I so want this to be all over and to get back to my life is why I'm doing all I can, but was hoping somewhere someone knew of an article that might help, or had an experience similar and could provide some insight.
  
Thank you for sharing that article! Although I have already read it, it's a good one!
Gosh, you know a lot, been through a lot and this certainly feels a bit like a medical mystery.  I'm going to look into this a bit more, get my research juices flowing and get back to you!
Thanks, Specialmom! I'll take all the help I can get!
I'm still doing a bunch of research myself - but all I seem to do is find rabbit holes to go down!
I know!  I love the internet and hate it.  I got distracted this past week but will circle back with anything I can find!
Well, thank you. I'm doing deep dives into possible pituitary gland issues now - still not finding anything that actually fits....so I'll continue on!
Yes, definitely a love-hate relationship with the internet!!

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