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AmyS

Management/lowering of high blood pressure - question

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I'm on my fifth Whole30 (that makes me sound like a bit of a chain reaction, eh? :lol: ). When I started my first Whole30 I was taking four medications. Two were for high blood pressure.

Within the first Whole30 my blood pressure dropped to normal, with medications, for the first time ever. Over time, however, that normal reading has risen slightly to what would be considered pre-hypertensive. This is much more stable than pre-Whole30, so it's a huge improvement overall.

I was taking synthroid for Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, and the dose seemed too small. Now, the dose is just right (I'm one of the Hashimoto's people for whom synthroid provides actual help). So - good!

I was also taking clonazepam for anxiety. I've dropped that and, quite frankly, I feel less anxious than I did when I was taking it. I don't think this is a general statement that should apply to anyone dealing with anxiety, but I found it rather odd that within 24 hours of stopping it, I felt immeasurably better. So - good!

For blood pressure, I was taking atenolol (a beta blocker) and losartan (some other kind of blocker :lol: ). I noticed that after eating Whole30 for a long enough time, and after getting off of the anxiety medication, I felt lots of side effects from the bp meds. I don't know for sure, but I believe (hypothesize? guess?) that those side effects were masked before, first from generally feeling like crap from such a poor diet, and second from the known and heavy side effects of the anxiety med. Now that I am healthier and I feel good and I don't need the anxiety med, I could actually feel the difference between "it's me feeling like crap" and "it's a side effect."

The straw that broke the camel's back on the bp meds side effects was one day when I was so mentally foggy (side effect of atenolol) that I actually forgot to pick up my own children from school. :o:wacko::ph34r: I went to my doctor and said that I just can't live this way any longer.

So she had me drop atenolol. So - good!!!! :D

This leaves me with the same-as-usual dose of synthroid, which is fine and dandy; and a slightly higher dose of losartan (higher because of the dropping of the other med, doc said).

So - two and a half weeks into that new routine, I start noticing that I feel dizzy, jittery, fatigued, increased skin sensitivity, swelling of face/hands/ankles/feet, nose and ears stopped up (with accompanying tinnitus) and generally out of sorts emotionally. Against doc's instructions I google losartan side effects and discover that, in fact, all of these things are common side effects - the swelling of face/hands/feet considered a serious enough one to call the doctor about. :o

I figure, hey, I'm healthy now, I bet these medications are not doing anything for me (see above under feeling better after dropping the anxiety med and you'll get my thought process). I am going to try dropping the losartan for a few days. Well, it's a freakin' festivus miracle. I feel like a million bucks. My brain works. Swelling disappears. Within 24 hours sinuses and ears clear out. Mood immensely improved. Etc. All listed side effects gone and I feel awesome.

Problem: my bp, taken at home, SKYROCKETS. Freaked me the f#*& out. I go back to taking the losartan, on the original dose. BP stabilizes. Side effects return (and I mean IMMEDIATELY).

So here's the thing: I've dropped my medications in half just simply by Whole30ing. This is a huge accomplishment. And, frankly, I'm completely fine with synthroid. It's not the wunderkind of thyroid treatments, I get that, but it has worked for me for over a decade and I'm good with keeping it. But the blood pressure thing? It's messin' with my head. I come from a strong family history of high blood pressure; and I had pre eclampsia with my girls' birth and I remember the nurses and doctors refusing to let me see my babies in the NICU because that would involve my sitting up and my bp was too high for them to let me sit up. And I remember even when I was discharged, the nurse, almost in a panic, telling me I HAD to stay lying down on my left side all the time or I was going to stroke out. (I didn't do that, since I had infant twins to care for!!!!) So I'm a little unbalanced in my fears and possibly my hopes for success here.

But the thing is, I'd like to make it a goal to be able to at least cut back on, if not get rid of, bp meds, using diet and exercise. The side effects mess with my quality of life in a very severe way. And I cannot describe the intense dismay I feel when, upon feeling like a million bucks, I take my blood pressure and discover that it's gone waaaay up (as when I took a couple of days off of the losartan recently).

Everything else in my body works great. And side effects are better than a stroke. I understand how incredibly lucky I am to be sitting here typing this while my now-9-year-old twins play in the next room. But dagnabit, I would love to have feeling good equal having a healthy blood pressure.

If you've gotten this far, I thank you; and I welcome any responses, insights, etc. that you can provide.

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Thanks Tom, I really appreciate that. When I google around, looking for, say, alternative treatments, there don't seem to be any substantive alternative treatments. And I notice that when I read forums about specific medications, they are often populated by folks who take rather long lists of medications for a wide range of conditions, high blood pressure being only one of a rather complicated mix. Obviously, like here, folks self-select when it comes to posting on a forum on any given topic. But women my age and with my work schedule and activity level and age of children just don't seem to be affected by high blood pressure. I'd sure like to join them in not being affected!

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Huh. http://getbetterwellness.blogspot.com/2011/01/getting-off-blood-pressure-medication.html

Note that the article I linked is not a Whole30 source and does not discuss Whole30 - but the basic recommendations regarding diet are preeeeettty darn consistent. I like that. Most sources of information about blood pressure talk about low fat high grain diets being healthy. This one's different.

Also, I think I found out why my bp shot up after stopping the medication for a couple of days. It's called a rebound effect. Turns out, if you just stop taking blood pressure medication, whatever system in your body it was treating will go wonky for a while, and in most cases, that means your bp will shoot up higher than it was pre-medication. Lordy.

I'm talkin' to myself here, I know that, but I'll continue to post what I find out. Some people do a food log, I guess I have a blood pressure log going here.

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I needed to get my BP down as my HRT was making me hypertensive and was on Losartan with no ill effects.... My BP is down avg 110/70 ( or lower)... But I decided with my cardiologist to stay on a 10mg dose for now, as I had a slight increase in my echo measurements pre W30 and just as a precaution .... I'll stick with it a few more months and then try to go off...

Just a suggestion.... I tried this and it really worked.... Eat mostly fish instead of red meat for one or two weeks and see what happens to your BP..... It's basic Chinese medicine... Meat is very Yang, fish Yin.... I don't know why but it worked for me.... Now I only eat 100% grass fed or wild game and my BP is great.... Got to be something( hormones I suspect messing with my already messed up system) in feedlot cattle!!!!

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You know, I've been looking around for a source for local grass-fed meat and I just found one today. Good timing. And I've really neglected fish, which is kind of a shame since I live in Hawaii. Good food for thought.

If I could get down to 10 mg of losartan I'd be happy with that. Congrats!!!

I bought some hibuscus tea, hawthorn tea (only those ingredients in the teas, absolutely no other ingredients), olive leaf extract, and natural calm. I've upped my exercise too. Stay tuned!

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I'm staying tuned. Anything you write I'll read :). I've often been told my blood pressure is a bit high and my doctor offered to put me on some kind of beta blocker but I'm lucky, he knows me, so when i refused to take them he just shrugged and agreed neither would he. Now I don't know what your levels actually are but it does sound like it's worse than I've ever been so I'm not ever saying stop taking medication your doctor's given you. However, the rebound that you mentioned sounds absolutely logical, exactly the same thing happens with Losec (omeprazole) for stomach acid. If you wanted to come off them is it possible to cut down gradually?

There's a really interesting article here

http://www.drbriffa.com/2012/08/17/treating-mild-high-blood-pressure-with-drugs-found-to-be-ineffective/

i know he's talking about *mild* high blood pressure which is not really your case but i still think it's worth a read. You can also search his site for other things he's said about hypertension. He's one of the few doctors i actually trust :). I also found him helpful in responding to questions I left on one of his articles. Good luck with it and I'll stay tuned.

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I did ask my veterinarian (the one I am married to) for an overview of high blood pressure. She said that yours sounds genetic and that diet may not be able to resolve your issues. However, she did suggest that you work with your doctor to find an alternative medicine that gives you fewer side effects. She reminded me that some people react to one med, but not another. So maybe losartan is not your best option. I've seen people go through 3 to 5 different drugs before they find one that gives them relief without causing problems. Back when I was a psychotherapist, I spent a lot of time convincing people to try another antidepressant until they found one they could live with.

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I'm staying tuned. Anything you write I'll read :). I've often been told my blood pressure is a bit high and my doctor offered to put me on some kind of beta blocker but I'm lucky, he knows me, so when i refused to take them he just shrugged and agreed neither would he. Now I don't know what your levels actually are but it does sound like it's worse than I've ever been so I'm not ever saying stop taking medication your doctor's given you. However, the rebound that you mentioned sounds absolutely logical, exactly the same thing happens with Losec (omeprazole) for stomach acid. If you wanted to come off them is it possible to cut down gradually?

There's a really interesting article here

http://www.drbriffa....be-ineffective/

i know he's talking about *mild* high blood pressure which is not really your case but i still think it's worth a read. You can also search his site for other things he's said about hypertension. He's one of the few doctors i actually trust :). I also found him helpful in responding to questions I left on one of his articles. Good luck with it and I'll stay tuned.

Thank you sooooo much! I was really moved by your response. (And not just because this issue has left me more emotionally raw than usual, promise. :wub: ) Also, that article is extremely helpful. What my doctors have noticed about my blood pressure is that it is difficult to categorize. I can have shockingly high blood pressure one minute, and then my doc gets me to loosen up by talking about Broadway musicals (and usually I demonstrate some song or other) and suddenly it's nearly normal. Treating this kind of high blood pressure can be trickier than treating blood pressure that just sort of sits around one place all the time. But overall, my response to medication has been less dramatic than my response to diet, and recently, exercise and other lifestyle changes. The two pieces of information I found most useful were:

1. Lowering very high blood pressure even a little bit is more beneficial than trying to get it down to normal, for a variety of reasons detailed in the article

2. There is no correlation between taking blood pressure medication and having fewer complications of high blood pressure UNLESS your bp is consistently over 160/100. (This is where it gets tricky for me, since my bp will commonly swing by twenty points in like three minutes. It's kinda maddening. It makes it trickier to treat with medication, but due to the fact that it has gone up to the 170s and even, once, 180, it really gets everybody's attention - and kinda puts me on the floor in a panicked fetal position, which of course helps my bp a whole lot. :rolleyes::wacko::huh: )

I did ask my veterinarian (the one I am married to) for an overview of high blood pressure. She said that yours sounds genetic and that diet may not be able to resolve your issues. However, she did suggest that you work with your doctor to find an alternative medicine that gives you fewer side effects. She reminded me that some people react to one med, but not another. So maybe losartan is not your best option. I've seen people go through 3 to 5 different drugs before they find one that gives them relief without causing problems. Back when I was a psychotherapist, I spent a lot of time convincing people to try another antidepressant until they found one they could live with.

Tom, my most heartfelt thanks to you and to your wife for taking the time to ponder my situation. I'm really touched.

I do understand that with genetics in play, and with my history of pre eclampsia, dietary changes alone are unlikely to make my blood pressure behave like it did when I was in my twenties (alas!). At the same time, as my diet has improved my health so much I've become almost as concerned about medication side effects as I have with the blood pressure itself (I'm on medication three, and have discussed several more, ruling out most because they have immediate and very damaging effects on the vocal process - for a singer that's out). The problem, of course, is that I'm really not in a situation to just fly by the seat of my pants. You're correct to note that it often takes several tries with different medications to find the right one. My dad, I think, took two years to find his original cocktail, as it were... and he has changed it up quite a bit over the years. He's a great example to me. He turns 81 in a few weeks and has a very healthy heart and lives with so much gusto that he reports feeling better than he did fifteen years ago. I gotta admire that. I know he works closely with his doctors and treats his body with respect (though I don't know if I could convince him to Whole30... hm...).

So, it's nice to know that while my family history includes high blood pressure, it also includes good health and robust life.

On to what I've figured out - Tom, you'll appreciate this: there's an entire book dedicated to the effects of magnesium on blood pressure. No kidding. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005SCF2K8/ref=oh_d__o00_details_o00__i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1 I've read about a quarter of the book so far, and it's extremely enlightening. So after dithering on this for several months, I went out and got myself some Natural Calm. I just took 1/4 tsp in some water last night, and I enjoyed a very nicely near-normal blood pressure reading within 30 minutes of taking (note that I'm still taking losartan as well), and a more sound sleep than I have had in a long time. I'm optimistic that I can combine various strategies for blood pressure management and see better results both in numbers and quality of life, than I did back in the days when I relied on medication to do everything for me.

So far so good. I'm also trying some teas that are recommended - hibiscus and hawthorn; and olive leaf extract. All of these are more about supporting healthy functioning. It's the magnesium that's been shown to actually - and rather dramatically - reduce blood pressure. So - again - stay tuned!

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I've been taking Natural Calm every night for almost 3 years. I stopped for a short time when I was eating kale three meals per day because I was afraid I might get too much magnesium, but I slowed down on the kale and also realized that I would probably get diarrhea if I got too much magnesium. I've been taking it steadily since and everything seems good.

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I am delighted to hear that! I am really happy that Whole30 has introduced me to my entire body in such a new way. I used to just feel kind of at the mercy of this strange physical entity I live in, and worried about what doctors would say and do about it all. Now I feel like I'm getting to know myself as a whole person (Whole30Person? :lol: ) and it's really enlightening.

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Wow... this sounds really complicated. I don't have any suggestions. But I wish you the best of luck in your research! Keep us updated.

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Wow... this sounds really complicated. I don't have any suggestions. But I wish you the best of luck in your research! Keep us updated.

I snorted audibly when I read the bolded part. I have been told that I overthink. :lol:

Today's notes: I can say that the magnesium, just after two days, is helping me deal with some of the worst side effects of the losartan. The very very veeeerrrrry worst thing it causes is a combination of fatigue and insomnia. It's brutal. The magnesium puts me to sleep and helps me wake up feeling rested. So far it seems to counteract losartan's instructions to wake up at 2:30 a.m. in a panic and be unable to go back to sleep (I thought it was just me, but taking a break from the losartan proved it was, in fact, the losartan).

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I'm often told that I overthink also. I believe that I am thorough and prefer substance to a shallow level of knowledge. B) And I do think it sounds complicated, especially how you say your pressure can change dramatically (more than ten points) in a short amount of time.

I'm glad to hear that you have found some positive movement!

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Update: I'm taking 350 mg of magnesium citrate, and I'll switch to magnesium chelate when the mag citrate (Natural Calm) runs out. I'm switching between 50 mg and 25 mg of losartan once per day - taking 50 one day and 25 the next. I've upped my exercise - walking for now, and adding distance and speed pretty much daily. My body composition continues to shift the longer I eat this way - I'm on a Whole60 right now but I'm feeling pretty clear that I'll rarely off-road once I'm done. It's taken five months to get here. It's a way of life now.

So, today at the eye doctor, I got a blood pressure reading of 117 over 82. I'm very pleased. I also asked where he got his automatic blood pressure monitor. :lol: I'm becoming convinced that part of the issue with my blood pressure readings at home is the inaccuracy of the machine. Also, I've noticed that when I go in to the doctor worried about my blood pressure, it reads higher than when I go in for another issue.

I think I'm on the right track. Side effects feel less than before, I think the exercise and the mag citrate are helping there. And I can tell my body is still changing - a lot - in response to Whole30 eating and to the exercise. Before, when I tried to exercise, I'd be exhausted and see no results. Now, I feel energized and focused, and I can see my body shift, just like it did when I was fifteen years younger.

So things are going well. I'm happy that I decided to take this on as a health improvement project, rather than a pill-taking/get-used-to-side-effects project. I believe I am improving my health rather than just addressing symptoms (while causing others). Onward!

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So, today at the eye doctor, I got a blood pressure reading of 117 over 82. I'm very pleased. I also asked where he got his automatic blood pressure monitor. :lol: I'm becoming convinced that part of the issue with my blood pressure readings at home is the inaccuracy of the machine. Also, I've noticed that when I go in to the doctor worried about my blood pressure, it reads higher than when I go in for another issue.

Amy, I am so so pleased for you that things are improving. Yes "white coat syndrome" is well documented. When I was in hospital they used to put the cuff on me and leave it for about an hour. It would automatically inflate and take a reading every few minutes. The first one would always be on the high side and then they'd get lower more *normal* as time went on and I stopped focussing on it. Anyway, great going. I would normally say 'keep up the good work' and 'onwards and upwards' but in your case would 'onwards and downwards be more appropriate :) all the best

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Losartan works by blocking a pathway that causes BP to increase in your kidneys, which in turn lowers your blood pressure. It also acts to protect your kidneys from further damage.

Unfortunately as the human body is a complicated thing, there are many pathways in which BP control works. It seems like you are managing to control your BP, but please let your Dr know that you are changing the dose of the losartan and adding in magnesium, as it can have an impact on any further treatment you may require (more so drug interactions if you ever needed additional medications for ANYTHING) also please note that just because something is natural doesn't necessarily mean that it's of benefit to you ( as lots of herbal/natural products interact in a bad way with prescribed medications, and can cause unwanted side effects) . I'll get off my pharmacists soap box now :-)

looks like you are doing great. Congrats

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Amy, I am so so pleased for you that things are improving. Yes "white coat syndrome" is well documented. When I was in hospital they used to put the cuff on me and leave it for about an hour. It would automatically inflate and take a reading every few minutes. The first one would always be on the high side and then they'd get lower more *normal* as time went on and I stopped focussing on it. Anyway, great going. I would normally say 'keep up the good work' and 'onwards and upwards' but in your case would 'onwards and downwards be more appropriate :) all the best

Onwards and downwards indeed! I'm happy about my progress!

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Latest update: I'm taking magnesium chelate now (I ordered it online and it finally got here) and the difference in absorption levels between the mag chelate and the mag citrate of Natural Calm, as evidenced by, err, digestive comfort, is STUNNING. I'm delighted. :lol::ph34r:

Doing better about eating three actual meals according to the template (I've always found it difficult to eat a third meal) and I'm exercising every day (so far it's just walking the dog, but this is far more than I've been doing in the past two years, so it's real progress).

With the magnesium I'm sleeping better and with the lower losartan amount my brain isn't foggy and I'm not dizzy (and no digestive discomfort either, a problematic side effect - one of many - of losartan). I know it will take several weeks or even a few months for results to be obvious, but I'm very pleased with how I feel and with how I'm responding. This is a world away from my experience when I first got on blood pressure medications, when my diet was awful, no exercise, stress beyond what I could manage. My whole life has changed and continues to change. I can't wait to see what's next as I continue to get healthier!

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Amy - I'm quite late to the game on this one, but your story has been an interesting read. I've "got high blood pressure" too - mine is a side effect of taking the pill. I can't go off the pill at this point in my life - I take it to manage sent from hell menstrual bleeds cause by my inherited bleeding disorder, and a combination of hormone therapies (yes, I take progesterone as well as a combined pill...) seems to be the only thing to keep it under control. When it was first picked up by my GP, she did a range of tests (bloods and kidney function) and apparently there's nothing wrong with me, but there is with my meds. Which I'm stuck with. So a different by equally complicated and weird story like yours! Its really exciting to see you've been able to reduce/cut out your meds. I have no idea if I'll be able to reduce my hbp med dosage, and it might take years, but this gives me a little hope. Thanks for sharing.

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