Perhaps you’ve never given much thought to your blood pressure, especially if it’s been spot on for most of your life. But as you get older and deal with more stressful aspects of in life, it can affect your blood pressure. Maybe not quite high enough to require medication, but it may be something to keep an eye on it. And this can affect even those who eat well, exercise most days, and do all the right things to stay healthy.
Some years ago I was put on medication for elevated blood pressure, as my mother before me. I took my medication and checked my values “religiously”… All of a sudden last October I developed malignant hypertension. I was hospitalized 3 times in 3 days with values over 220, then the hospital sent me to a nephrologist. He started running tests which were all normal. The hospital put me on Clonidine but the nephrologist did not add anything while running tests. In November I had to be hospitalized again. That time the ER doctor said they were not going to release me back to the same situation and added Amlodipine Besylate. My blood pressure has been normal with one brief spike since. Problem now are medication side effects: edema of feet and legs, hearing loss from fluid retention, bloating and constipation and generally not feeling well. I had always worked full time but finally retired this March. I am very disappointed to think that after working so hard for so may years I am going to feel like this in retirement due to side effects. I have talked to my nephrologist, especially a few weeks ago when I developed hearing loss from fluid retention and found that all the side effects are cumulative. He sent me an email saying we will stop the Clonidine and Amlodipine with no adjustments or anything in their place!! My pharmacist has tried to be helpful but can’t change anything. He says Amlodipine is one of the worst meds for side effects and many patients have to stop it for something else. The nephrologist does not seem to have done any research on side effects in order to suggest alternative medications, or to offer adjustments. He seems kind and listens, but offers nothing. In fact all of my medications for this condition were prescribed at the hospital. We have few geriatric doctors in this area, and no geriatric cardiologists. My regular cardiologist who just prescribed my standard meds cancelled my appointment when I developed the spikes. I already knew he was not up to challenges…I see an adult congenital cardiologist every so often even though he tells me I don’t need him as my congenital repair and heart are fine. There are not a lot of nephrologists here, but I think there is a better one in the same group so I doubt he will see me. I am really in a dilemma because I certainly cannot risk spikes, but would hope to feel better and not risk side effects such as fluid retention causing worse problems. It has also elevated my blood glucose which I watch and control through diet and exercise. The medication had my blood pressure running as low as the low 80s over low 50s, obviously too low, which is when the edema developed and I was lethargic. Now values are good. I have found little information on malignant hypertension and had never heard of it. I will greatly appreciate any suggestions. Thank you! PS I do not have a primary care doctor because so many here will not take Medicare and the “good” ones are not taking new patients or retiring. I have been looking for some time. My neurologist even had me send records to his good friend, an internal medicine specialist and they called and said he couldn’t help me….I had endocarditis at age 5 and have some medical PTSD. Sorry to write a novel, but I am thrilled there may be some help for me!
People who cooked with a blend of the two oils (available at health food stores) saw a drop in blood pressure almost comparable with the decrease that results from taking medication, according to research from the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions. Researchers believe the effect is due to the oils’ fatty acids and antioxidants such as sesamin, sesamol, sesamolin, and oryzanol.
Seek the sun: A natural source of energy and one that keeps you healthy. A recent study found that people exposed to UV rays for a short duration experienced a significant drop in blood pressure, even before their production for vitamin D activated. This is thought to be because of the sunlight converting nitrate stored in the skin to nitric oxide—a potent vasodilator.
Research on the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet shows that eating at least 9 servings of fruits and vegetables each day can reduce blood pressure about as much as medication. Fruits and vegetables are high in potassium, which helps to balance sodium in your cells to reduce pressure in your blood vessel and has shown to lower risk for stroke. Try to incorporate at least one piece or serving of a fruit or vegetable (or both) into each snack, and include about ½ plate of fruits and vegetables into all your meals.
The calculated difference between the systolic and diastolic pressures is also of interest. If the difference is large (e.g. 170/85), it could be the sign of stiff arteries – often caused by heart disease. This means the blood vessels can’t dilate enough when the heart sends out a pulse, which forces the blood pressure to increase. (The walls can’t expand, so the pressure rises when the heart tries to pump the blood through.)
Dairy or soy—it’s your choice. Replacing some of the refined carbohydrates in your diet with foods high in soy or milk protein (like tofu or low-fat dairy) can bring down systolic blood pressure if you have hypertension or prehypertension, findings suggest. "Some patients get inflammation from refined carbohydrates, which will increase blood pressure," says Matthew J. Budoff, MD, FACC, Professor of Medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine and Director of Cardiac CT at the Division of Cardiology at the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.
I have been doing a search to find information I can trust about my high BP, and I am so glad I found you! Your information and links to more have answered my questions, hardly addressed by my doctors and pharmacists. I am an 87-year-old female in generally excellent health, eating properly and on the move. I get moderate exercise and have just now started a program with a trainer–paid for by my Medicare provider! I don’t want to lose strength or the ability to teach, write, and get around.
2. Take an omega-3 oil. Omega 6:3 ratio is important. A lot of us get way too much omega-6 in our diets, which is what's caused the omega-3 craze. Refined vegetable oil is one of the main culprits, and found in almost all processed foods, and even some orange juices. Because we have way too much omega-6 in our systems, we need to compensate by taking some form of omega-3 oil. Decreasing your intake of processed foods will have a similar effect.
Pickering TG, et al. Recommendations for blood pressure measurement in humans and experimental animals: Part 1: blood pressure measurement in humans: a statement for professionals from the Subcommittee of Professional and Public Education of the American Heart Association Council on High Blood Pressure Research. Hypertension. 2005 Jan;45(1):142-61.
Eat a heart-healthy diet. Eating a well-balanced diet with lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds that is also low in sodium, saturated fat, added sugar, and cholesterol is important for your heart. There is a diet specifically geared toward lowering blood pressure. It’s called the DASH diet, which stands for dietary approaches to stop hypertension. Talk to your doctor or make an appointment with a dietitian if you need help making changes to your diet.
7. Cut down on sodium intake: Processed and packaged food needs to go out of your kitchen, if you want healthy levels of blood pressure. This is because processed food is loaded with added preservatives to increase their shelf life. Also, prepare your food with lesser salt as high intake of salt is linked to risks of high blood pressure and stroke.
It is notable that relaxation and meditation, though useful for many purposes, have not been found to impact high blood pressure. Many people find this surprising, possibly since high blood pressure also is known as “hypertension.” Because of this potentially misleading term, many people have assumed that high levels of stress or “tension” are a major cause of “hypertension,” or high blood pressure. This is not the case. High blood pressure is an essentially mechanical, and not psychological, problem.
Sorry to hear of all your challenges related to blood pressure. Your situation sounds particularly complicated and so it’s probably appropriate for you to be seeing a specialist. High blood pressure can be treated by either cardiology or nephrology; nephrology might be better if you are also experiencing edema, but it also depends on what they think caused your hypertensive emergency in the first place and whether you seem to have anything going on with your kidneys.
1. Concentrate on foods that lower blood pressure. Sugary, processed foods contain salt, sugar, damaged fats, and food sensitivities like gluten that contribute to or exacerbate high blood pressure. Shifting to a whole, unprocessed foods diet can dramatically impact your blood pressure. Many whole, unprocessed foods are rich in potassium, a mineral that supports healthy blood pressure. Some research shows that too much sodium and low amounts of potassium – can contribute to high blood pressure. Research shows people with high blood pressure can benefit from increased potassium in foods including avocado, spinach, wild-caught salmon, and sweet potatoes.
It's time to heed your partner's complaints and get that snoring checked out. Loud, incessant snores are a symptom of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a disorder characterized by brief yet potentially life-threatening interruptions in breathing during sleep. And many sleep apnea sufferers also have high levels of aldosterone, a hormone that can boost blood pressure, according to University of Alabama researchers. In fact, it's estimated that sleep apnea affects half of people with high blood pressure.