High blood pressure worries and frustrations in four years time had led me on a mission and a quest to find out about this notorious and scary hypertensive heart disease.
When I gained 35 extra pounds in a matter of five years of quitting my job and relocating, I’ve noticed I became very sluggish and I would feel tired even just after a shower. I knew that I needed to do something about the changes I was feeling. For one thing, I did not even know that I gained so much weight. I’ve thrown caution to the wind, stopped weighing myself in the morning, enjoyed life and ate out a lot even if there was no special occasion. I’ve eaten sweet desserts way late in the evening, had some ice cream and junk snacks while enjoying internet browsing and watching movies. I was just having the greatest time of my life after working so long and hard in life. It was a time of junk foods that I did not even know were bad for me; and eating out and buying all kinds of processed foods, were part of finally arriving to a period and time that alarm clocks no longer ruled my life. I could be up almost all night, waking up late in the morning with no set sleep schedule. Hey, this was what life was all about after all!
Then came a warning sign. To compensate with bad eating habits, I would do my treadmill workout. At first I was able to still do high speed intensity and uphill workouts. But then one day, I had a bad fall while sort of running on our hallway to catch an important life event on video. It was a bad tumble on a hard concrete flooring, chest first. A few months later, when I felt okay to go back to exercising, I started feeling chest pains while tread milling. I would stop working out for days, and returned back when the pain was gone, but there was still the same nagging chest pains.
One night I woke up with this worse chest pain on my left side that my hubby had to take me to the emergency. Thank goodness, it was not a heart attack. However, the emergency doctor suggested that I see a cardiologist to be safe and sure that my heart is not weakening. The following day after seeing a cardiologist, he wrote me a prescription for Nitrostat to take as needed should I experience chest pains again. The cardio visit led to another visit as he wanted me to undergo some tests. I declined having one of them because of what was written about the possible bad reactions to the test. The doctor mentioned that my blood pressure was in a high range. He suggested that it might be the cause of my chest pains.
Knowing nothing about high blood pressure, I did not know where to start. But it led me to start researching about it. I’ve read that caffeine intake can elevate blood pressure. I stopped drinking tea and coffee, not even decaf, and the chest pains subsided. I read that I should buy a blood pressure monitor to help with knowing my blood pressure numbers at home. My first blood pressure monitor was giving me high systolic numbers but my diastolic numbers ever since was normal.
Getting frustrated and stressed out with worries about the high blood pressure, I finally saw a general practitioner who suggested that I start taking blood pressure medication. The first medication prescribed was Lisinopril. When I went back for 3 months check up, I told my doctor that I was experiencing bad night coughing. He then took me out of that and prescribed Benicar, but I had a bad sore throat and itching from taking it that I had to go back to my GP and he changed the BP prescription to Losartan. I stayed with Losartan for a while. This time I started with a Blood Pressure Log to keep track of my daily BP systolic and diastolic numbers and heart rates. And I bought a better and reliable BP monitor. My numbers were good and stayed in good range.
I make it a habit to take three months worth of BP log sheets each time I see my doctors. I have a white coat hypertension syndrome where my blood pressure systolic reading is higher at the doctor’s office. I used to wonder why, but I know now the reason. Everything is rush-rush in the doctors office. Taking blood pressure measurement should be done after 5 to 10 minutes of rest sitting down doing nothing. Your upper left arm is at the same height as your heart, placing it on a table. The clinic assistant should not do anything or not talk to you or touch you to take your heart rate etc., while taking the measurement. These are not adhered at the doctors office. They don’t give you a chance to breathe if ever. You’re already stressed out being there and if they call your name right away while filling some paperwork for updates, your heart is already racing. Of course, in turn, your blood pressure reading undoubtedly has skyrocketed. This is what I tell them now after they take my measurement and my reading was high; and I show them my BP log sheets. I am right away vindicated. I don’t give them a chance to tell me to up my BP med dose just because.
Many people find that their blood pressure increases because of subconscious stress from confrontation with medical institutions and the staff working there. This is usually called “white coat hypertension”, that is, elevated blood pressure levels from just seeing the white lab coats doctors wear.
This is a common problem: a full 10-15% of people diagnosed with high blood pressure after measurements taken at a hospital or medical facility, later find that measurements taken in their own home or averaged over 24 hours are normal.
If you’re one of the people with “white coat hypertension”, you have approximately the same risk of heart disease as other people with normal blood pressure. People with “white coat hypertension” don’t need blood pressure-lowering medication – but they often get it unnecessarily! ***DietDoctor.com
This time around I started on my plant based diet, reducing simple sugar carbs and saturated fats, started with calorie counting and lost a significant amount of weight. My BMI went down to normal. I also started with intermittent fasting. Anyway with BP med intake it seemed like I finally achieved successful control of my blood pressure, or so I thought.
But then after a few months of taking Losartan daily, I started feeling backaches, cold sweats especially at night and the worse chills like I could hardly breathe at night and would wake me up in the middle of the night. Suffice to say, I had so many sleepless nights. I would have chest pains on top of it that my GP referred me to another cardiologist who is more reliable than the previous one I was referred to at the Emergency Hospital. This time I finally agreed to have a cardiogram test and a nuclear test. My nuclear test had a good result. I do not have any blockage and my heart condition is good and so did my cardiogram result.
But I was still being pestered with back pains and all the side effects that came with taking Losartan. I had a little argument at my next visit with my GP. He was getting annoyed that I was complaining about side effects. And asked me point blank why should he prescribe me another BP med when I seemed to complain about side effects all the time. I told him you’re my doctor, you’re supposed to help me. But looking back at it now, I guess he probably would want me to stop taking them period. Both of us frustrated, he prescribed Norvasc or Amlodipine. At this point, I was just about as stressed out with BP meds.
I then researched on what veggies and fruits and whole grains and other plant based foods that can naturally lower my blood pressure. I’ve adjusted my daily prepared meal to be as close as the Mediterranean diet focusing on lots of veggies and fruits.
After taking the Amlodipine for three months, side effects followed.
I had the worst lower and upper back pains. I could barely sit down for a few minutes because I would have chest pains and back pains. I started getting very tired and fatigue at the end of the day that I had to stop taking it because I can hardly get a good sleep. This time I did not call my GP. I felt good through all the summer last year after quitting Amlodipine. The back pains were going away. I was able to get goodnight sleep again. Without the BP med, I found out that with adding plant based foods and losing weight, my blood pressure numbers are not bad at all. My energy was optimal.
But I decided to give Amlodipine another try early this year to make sure that I was just not imagining the side effects. Just three weeks into taking it everyday, my lower and upper back started to bother me again. I started getting dizzy and feeling faint like I would pass out. My legs were starting to swell and ache like I was having a blood clot on both legs. I started sneezing really bad everyday, I could barely function. I lost my energy. I was able to prepare my smoothies and eat plant based foods, but I was so fatigued toward the end of the day that I felt like I was so depressed and feeling run down. I told myself that this is not the way to live a full life! I was having a restless sleep. I’ve prayed so hard and asked God for discernment and wisdom on how I could deal with these trials I was going through with my health. I was exhausted and tired and sneezing continuously most days that once and for all, I’ve got to stop taking the BP med.
After a week of quitting the BP med, I felt better. I’ve been taking Gaba Plus for years, so I started taking them again. I stopped taking my supplements because of fear that they might badly interact with my BP med. I started taking Fish Oil and Co Q-10 and Vitamin D and calcium again. In my research, I found out that taking Gaba Plus and Fish Oil will lower my blood pressure.
Yesterday, my blood pressure systolic was 127 and my diastolic was 64 and heart rate is 62. I’ve been getting good BP readings even without the conventional BP med. The chest pain is gone and yesterday, I returned to doing a moderate treadmill walk. When I’ve first embarked on changing my eating habits and lost a lot of weight and doing intermittent fasting, I was in the middle or period of taking the BP med. So whatever benefits and nutrients I was getting was helping me somehow, but the side effects of the BP med were so overwhelming that daily dose of this medication was giving me a poor quality of life.
In a recent 6 month’s visit last week at my cardiologist office, I told the nurse practitioner that was assigned to me that I stopped taking the BP med. I showed her my BP log sheets and told her the side effects I experienced. She was concerned about the BP reading that was taken by the clinic assistant because my systolic reading was high. I told her what I’ve learned about the right ways to take BP measurement. I was surprised she didn’t know. She let me rested for about 5 to 15 minutes and took another blood pressure measurement. It was 135/70 with 64 heart rate.
Blood pressure readings varies each time in a day, it can be lower, in the middle, higher or extremely high depending on how our heart and brain react on things around us. I found out that it is normal. The medical concern really is if our systolic or diastolic number remain high, especially the systolic number and does not change even when we are at rest before doing the measurements.
One of the best websites about hypertension or high blood pressure I’ve read was DietDoctor.com ( https://www.dietdoctor.com/blood-pressure )
An ideal, healthy blood pressure is not over 120/80. This is what young, healthy and lean people have…
Values between 140/90 and 160/100 are considered as slightly elevated blood pressure.
Over 160/100 is said to be moderately elevated.
Over 180/110 is a severely elevated blood pressure.
If your blood pressure is severely elevated (over 160 systolic or over 100 in diastolic), medication is wise. If you have other risk factors for heart disease (like smoking, diabetes or obesity), medication may be recommended even for a slight elevation in blood pressure (over 140/90).
Up until recently there was no evidence that medication improves the health of otherwise healthy people with mildly elevated blood pressure (140-159 systolic and/or 90-99 diastolic). This meant it was unclear whether it was worth risking the side effects of the medication if all you have is a slight elevation.
After losing a lot of weight and eating plant based foods, my daily blood pressure readings are in the mid 120s and low and mid 130s at the most. The Fish Oil and Gaba plus have added extra help in lowering my blood pressure steadily without BP medication. Hopefully, I am at the time now that I have reached the level where my blood pressure is finally well controlled. I’ve thanked God and grateful to Him that He has given me understanding and wisdom in overcoming the maladies concerning high blood pressure. God once again opened my eyes!