Living Well: High Blood Pressure & hypertension

It’s been a while since I’ve done a “Living Well” article but today I have something new to talk about. High blood pressure. This is something that has never really been a problem for me. Between a good healthy diet and regular exercise – I managed to keep my blood pressure at 120/80 for years. Even during times of real stress.

The only times that my blood pressure even fluctuated was when I was very ill or on medication that compromised my health. Well, color me surprised when I had my blood pressure taken today at the doctor’s office. The nurse nearly fell over when she saw the first reading.

A whopping 176/150.

I’ve only seen readings like that with my dad who has chronic high blood pressure. I mean his highest recorded reading was something stupid like 200 / 180. I’m not even sure how he survived that.

Luckily, the second reading was much better – 144/ 115. But this puts me at high risk of things like strokes, heart attacks and more. I had plenty of time to kill while waiting for my new doctor so I looked things up. And let’s just say – I really like my new doctor. He’s got a lot of experience and asked a lot of questions about the kid of work I do and what kind of work I’d like to be doing. He also agreed that working from home would be a best scenario.

As I was reading some of the symptoms of high blood pressure, I literally gasped out-loud. I had no idea high HBP (short-form for writing) could cause so much damage. And it explains so much.

It seems that extreme bouts of stress or anxiety can cause your BP to spike. And I suspect that is the case here. Because like I said, even though I’m overweight, my BP is usually near perfect. Hypertension is closely linked to HBP and I suspect that is also what is happening here.

Symptoms of High Blood Pressure

  • Severe headaches, or migraines or the feeling of constant “brain fog”. This makes day to day tasks feel impossible. Like last night, I nearly had a melt down while making pasta. And that is far from a normal day.
  • Nosebleeds – this one can be tricky. My nose bleeds because Alberta is so dry in winter months. I use a nasal spray called Dymista to help with this and the sinuses.
  • Brain fog – I thought it was the migraines that were causing the brain fog which they can for weeks at a time. But it turns out that really HBP can also cause this. Basically my brain just ceases to function. The simplest tasks can seem most complicated. Tying my shoes. Boiling water. Writing a blog. My memory is toast. I have to remind myself constantly of appointments and write them down in multiple places so I don’t forget.
  • Vision problems – eye strain, blurry eyes, sore eyes – my eyes have been extremely dry and tired these days. But this symptom is common for those with sinus issues and allergies. So I just chalked it up to a sinus attack.
  • Shaking or tremors – this one to watch out for. You can get shaking or tremors if you haven’t eaten enough food or from lack of sleep. Tremors can also be a sign of a neurological disorder like Parksinsons which is what my dad has – and something I’m irrationally worried about for myself.

The more severe symptoms should be monitored on a daily basis with the help of your medical team. If you have chronic high blood pressure, you’ll want to keep a monitor on hand at all times. My dad has one. During his really bad spells, he had to take readings THREE times a day. And do three readings at a time. One is bad enough for me – those things hurt.

The worrisome part of high blood pressure is that it can lead to stroke or heart attack. So, as a non-doctor type of person who is struggling right now, I highly encourage you to seek medical attention if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Chest pain, wheezing or having difficulties with breathing, blood in the urine (that’s a bad sign), pounding in your neck chest or ears. I’ve had this terrible pounding in my ears for weeks and now I finally know what it is.

Other symptoms linked to high blood pressure include:

  • Feeling dizzy or faint even when lying down, flushed face or skin, feelings of agitation or nervousness, sweating, spots in the eyes.

High blood pressure is easier to diagnose because there are machines that can tell you what your blood pressure is. Let me tell you, I was shocked to see the reading so high today. But it all makes sense. Insomnia can cause hypertension. And hypertension from high blood pressure can cause insomnia. It’s a vicious cycle. But at least high blood pressure can be treated with medications and natural methods you can do from home.

Home Remedies

Now most of these methods I’m already doing and they are all good things to get into daily practice. But when you’re not sleeping – it doesn’t seem to matter what you do. Your body needs sleep. At least 4-6 hours daily. I function better on 6 hours and feel more tired if I get 8 hours. There are days that I just want to sleep ALL day.

Here are some tips I’ve learned over the years to help keep your blood pressure at healthy levels. And no, 176/150 is NOT healthy.

Healthy diet – a healthy and well balanced diet will not only help with general weight loss, but it can help you with many health problems. Eating more fruits and vegetables can help to reduce high blood pressure. Lowering your sodium, salt and cholesterol intake is crucial.

No booze for you – reducing your alcohol and caffeine consumption is wise when you’re taking medication for high blood pressure. I’m not much of a drinker but enjoy the occasional glass of wine or rum. Most booze gives me wicked stomach aches or migraines. As for coffee, I’ve cut back down to one large coffee in the morning and that carries me through the day. Cutting back on sugary juices and pop is helpful.

Stress management – this is crucial. My anxiety is through the roof right now. Worse than ever before. If I don’t learn to take care of myself, then it all falls apart. Like crying over pasta last night for no reason. The pasta didn’t do anything to me. That was just where my mental state was at the time of making the pasta. Strung out, frustrated and exhausted from lack of sleep. Meditation, yoga and finding time to yourself is the most valuable thing to help lower your blood pressure.

And of course, blah blah blah, all articles tell us to lose weight. I begged the doctor to let me try medications for weight loss. My last doctor was against the meds for weight loss. But I’ve tried everything. And instead of losing weight, the more sleep I don’t get – the more the weight piles on. It doesn’t matter how much I eat during the day, how much exercise I get – I just can’t lose the weight.

And so, it’s time to try some drugs.

And with that – I’m warning you all that my moods might be a bit wild as I start with this prescription. I’m really hoping it helps because I’m tired of working hard and not seeing results. Wish me luck.

Have you struggled with high blood pressure? How did you manage your symptoms in the past? Let me know in the comments!

For more articles like this, head on over to my “living well” section where I talk about various health ailments and how I cope with them or have them treated.

Thanks for reading – consider following my blog if you haven’t yet. I write almost daily.

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