T Nation

Blood Pressure Increase


#1

Over the past six months my blood pressure has gone from normal (120/80 give or take a few points) to high (about 155/91) which I just discovered a couple days ago. It had been pretty stable at normal levels for about 2 years prior to that. I'm having a heck of time identifying what has changed exercise/nutrition/supplement-wise that might have caused BP to increase. I'm hoping some T-Nation members might have some suggestions as to what to look for while I wait for my doctor appointment.

This is what I do know has changed...

1) I have NOT been taking any thermogenics / stimulants / fat burners for a couple months now, but I did try one bottle of Hot Rox in that period.

2) My body composition has not changed significantly in that period, (although it's pretty poor anyway.) In other words, I'm not getting fatter.

3) I have been getting a lot more sun exposure and tanning, and hence a lot more vitamin D.

4) Along with the vitamin D, I've been taking calcium supplements and getting more dairy products than I have before. Other than that, no changes to the diet. I do tend to eat low carb.

5) My HRT has changed from 250mg of test enanthate every other week to 125 mg per week.

6) I increased the intensity of my exercise program a lot in the past 3 weeks, adding a lot more energy work and lifting heavier with fewer reps.

7) I ran out of both Biotest "M" and ZMA a couple months ago and haven't taken any of those in a while. (Just got a fresh batch!)

8) I can't think of anything particularly stressful throughout that period.

It seems that most of these changes should lower blood pressure, including the vitamin D and calcium. What am I missing? Could it be something subtle? I'm afraid my GP won't be able to recommend anything other than to prescribe drugs.


#2

Over the past six months my blood pressure has gone from normal (120/80 give or take a few points) to high (about 155/91) which I just discovered a couple days ago

How did you "discover" a few days ago that it had changed?

Blood pressure readings can vary significantly depending on the position of the arm during the reading, and your mental/emotional state at the time it was taken e.g. readings taken in a docs office can overestime the true value.


#3

To make a short story longer...

I wanted to get away from my desk at work so I walked over to where the new automated BP machine was. I don't quite fit the cuff, but tried anyway. It said 183/111. Well, that couldn't be right, because the old machine at least got close. So I went to a different machine at a drug store that evening (still didn't fit the cuff) and it showed 165/91. Suspicious, and somewhat worried, two days later I got the nurse at the doctor's office to check it for free, and the professional reading was 155/91 (using the right size cuff.) She checked my chart and the last two readings earlier in the year were 125/80 and then 130/85 (or thereabouts, I'm doing this from memory) indicating to me that it might have started creeping up several months ago.

I'll know more after today's doctor appointment.


#4

The cuff size matters, and to the extent those machines are accurate, they will not be if the cuff size is wrong.

Ditto

I wonder why the reading was elevated.

You are likely to be so nervous for your doctor apt today that unless they take it a few times they may very well get an elevated BP when you really do not have hypertension.


#5

You may look into taking some hawthorne berry. Ive never taken it myself, but (spoken in best sopranos accent) "I heard things".

"Hawthorne Berries appear to work best when taken as a preventative herb, possibly helping reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. With its high content of bioflavonoids, Hawthorne Berries best support the heart. Hawthorne increases the body's ability to utilize oxygen, and the heart's ability to utilize calcium. This herb can actually help regulate both high and low blood pressure, in addition to slowly breaking down cholesterol and fat deposits in the body. The bioflavonoids help strengthen the contractive force of the heart, and gently dilate & relax the coronary blood vessels, improving overall circulation. For this reason, Hawthorne Berries have been used to lower high blood pressure & high cholesterol, as well as increase low blood pressure. When used to support weight loss programs, Hawthorne Berries help reduce water retention by expelling excess salt from the body. This botanical has also been known to reduce nervous tension, alleviate insomnia and aid digestion. Hawthorne can also be used to strengthen joint lining, collagen and spinal discs."


#6

ALSO TRY THE CO-Q10 AND FISH OIL CAPS TO KEEP YOUR BP IN CHECK.


#7

Thumper, what's the dosage for BP control with Hawthorne berry's??


#8

Doctor visit on Thursday confirmed high BP at 155/100. He gave me a battery of tests to get performed (Complete metabolic panel, CBC, lipid profile, TSH, urinalysis and one other I forgot already, for a total of 6.) Plus some Diovan 12.5 mg.

The Hawthorne berry sounds very interesting; I haven't heard of it before. I have heard of the other suggestions.

At this point I'd like to see if there is something in particular that caused the high BP, although we might never know for sure. I'd like to eliminate the cause, if possible, before finding ways to treat the symptoms. But they are good suggestions nonetheless.


#9

You may very well have hypertension, but you would be wise to confirm it before you make major changes. Get a decent quality BP machine in the drug store, find someone with a cuff and stethescope so you can calibrate your machine, and then have the machine check your blood pressure a few times/day for a week. If that comfirms that your blood pressure is elevated, then so be it, but if it does not, then e.g. the reading your doc obtained might have been due to your being nervous.


#10

Again, I have never actually taken any hawthorne, but I did run across this.

Tips on Choosing a Hawthorne Berry Supplement

  1. Look to purchase only standardized extracts, which are of the highest integrity and potency. The essence of the herb is contained within the plant fiber and this may only constitute 1/1000th of the dried weight of the plant. Standardized extracts are produced from this essence.

  2. Dosage can range from 25 mg up to 300 mg per tablet or capsule. Those people who fall into the risk group for heart disease may wish to take at least 100 mg of hawthorne berry daily. For others, 25 mg would normally suffice, assuming standardized extract is being used.


#11

Just to add a similiar story, my girlfriend recently (couple months ago) went to the doctor and was told she has high blood pressure. It was 160 over 99 or something. So her doctor tells her that she needs to get it under control, etc. and almost prescribes drugs. I tell her no way its high. She hates going to the doctor and there is as others have stated, elevated blood pressure due to nervousness (white coat hypertension its sometimes called). So we borrow a neighbours digital blood pressure monitor and take readings for 2 weeks. In the morning, at work and in the evening. Although the evening was the highest, it never went above 130/80, which is acceptable. She goes back to the doctor for her follow up appointment and of course, its like 160/95. Ask everyone you know if someone has a blood pressure monitor you can borrow, because the ones in pharmacies are not accurate. You must be seated. And relaxed. And it has to be correctly strapped to your arm. You are supposed to be resting for about 15 minutes before. No caffeine, etc. Otherwise the readings are questionable. I would avoid taking blood pressure medication as many doctor's will prescribe it for life, and you will never get a 'true' reading once on it. Also, potassium/sodium levels can affect blood pressure. And although its hereditary in many families, if no one else has high blood pressure thats close to you I would be suspcious until you have a lot of readings. Sorry for the long post.


#12

I went out and bought an Omron digital BP monitor. I also bought the enlarged cuff so it fits my arm properly. It seems to confirm the high readings, but I haven't "calibrated" it against the doctor's reading yet.

As for white coat hypertension, I never have that. All my prior normal readings were taken at the doctor's office, and I was getting a shot at the time too.

Since nobody saw any obvious oddities in the changes I made, I started to think about stress in my life. I didn't recognize it as such, but a ton of minor things have been going on in my life lately that might contribute to high stress levels, although I didn't think of them that way at first. A lot of little things can eat at you more than one big one I guess.


#13

Sounds like you have clinical hypertension. Go the doc, get your prescription, and be done with it.

I was diagnosed with hypertension in my ealy 30's....about 15 years age. I just that the pill in the morning and I'm good to go.

Don't fret about this....this is why they make pills...

Hope this helps.

TenMan


#14

I'm not a medical professional but two things jumped out at me regarding the changes you made recently in your regimand. Your reduction of magnesium and your increase of calcium. I've heard an excess of calcium and a depletion of magnesium are related to high BP. A common intervention for high BP is an IV magnesium drip to help restore levels. Since magnesium works as an antagonist to calcium.

For the next while I'd suggest dropping all calcium supplementation till you get your BP back to normal as well as taking a ZMA supplement to get your magnesium levels back up to par.

Once your BP is stable I'd reintroduce calcium supplementation since it is important but don't go any higher than 1000mg per day.

I'm curious, how many mg per day have you been taking of calcium supplementation.

By the way my source for this information is the Protein Power Lifeplan by Dr. Eades.

Can anybody else back me up on this?


#15

I was taking one supplement that had 1000mg of calcium carbonate plus 500mg of magnesium oxide together in one dose. Of course, the calcium is known to interfere with absorption of other substances, maybe magnesium. I've been doing a lot more dairy too, and supposedly calcium from dairy is easily absorbed.

I don't think these are the best forms of the minerals either.

When I get a copy of the labs, I'll be looking at the calcium, magnesium and potassium levels. I found my last labs from February which showed normal levels of each, but the potassium was leaning to the low side of normal.


#16

I can throw in some personal experience on how mood and tension level can affect blood pressure readings.

Blood pressure has never been an issue for me. Period... when I've had doctor visits, physicals and whatnot, it's been fine. I had an especially good going over about 2 years back getting ready for an exchange program in Japan (university required a physical, chest X-ray, vaccinations and whatnot). No problem. But, I never had any reason to feel nervous about going to the doctor, because I didn't think or assume anything was wrong with me.

Fast forward to January. I'd had a few episodes of abdominal pain during the last half of 2003, kinda like food poisoning, not terribly worrisome except it recurs a few times and I want to know what's up. To make a long story short the diagnosis is gallstones. I see a gastrointerologist and he recommends gallgladder removal, but as basically an elective procedure. Bottom line was my life is not in danger or anything, but I may have to deal with painful episodes. I decide to at least take a crack at improving my diet and supplementation to improve my liver and gallbladder health (the gallbladder stores bile produced by the liver, and one of my symptoms is elevated liver enzyme levels, so keeping the liver happy is a priority).

So a few weeks ago I went in to get a voluntary set of blood tests, to see if I've succeeded in improving my liver function. Important considerations are:

A) The last few times I'd been in I was diagnosed with the stones, and while my sypmtoms had practically disappeared, for all I knew the blood tests could come back worse.

B) This was the validation or invalidation of my entire life for the previous 4 months. When the GI recommended surgery, I decided that I was smarter and had a stronger will than the rest of his patients, and I chose to improve my health to treat the causes rather than cut out the symptoms. If things were the same or worse, I'd be demoralized, and all my efforts would have been pointless.

So, needless to say I was VERY NERVOUS about the outcome when I went in there, practically crapping my pants I was so freaked, and I could feel the tension in my whole body and my heart pounding... so I get called in and the nurse does the height/weight/blood-pressure stuff and I get "Is your blood pressure usually 140/something?" And I say "No, but I'm freaked the hell out right now. I believe it's been normal in the past, what's the chart say?" And she took a look at my past readings and they had been in the 120's/somethings, forget the second reading but they were nothing to be alarmed about. On looking at the old charts and noting my currently elevated heart rate, she didn't seem concerned, and said it was pretty common for people to get bunk readings when they are agitated. She said some patients can never get an accurate reading at the doctor's office because they just can't calm down. Had a cute name for the "condition" but I don't remember it.

As it turns out my liver enzyme levels had gone from highly elevated to almost normal, so I find it that much more unlikely that such an improvement in health would be accompanied by a BP increase... Maybe next time I will be able to sit still and get a good reading.

So, the point is, mood and arousal level will influence the readings... and you may be in trouble now that you're worried about your BP, it may be impossible for you to calm down when it's taken. You may need to get a cuff and just take it over and over again to desensitize yourself to the procedure.

Another thing is, read the fine print on the auto-BP machines, and they usually say something like they are not for arms greater than 13-inches in circumference, so they are not exactly T-man friendly. I have no idea how much of a factor that really is, but you have to figure if it's hard to get your arm in the thing before it's inflated (it is for me), then it's probably not going to work for you.

So, don't assume you're fine, but don't get too freaked out yet, especially when you have a good track record. Consider your mental state when you had the nurse check it- you'd already had two (probably bunk) high readings from the machines, so you were tense and worried about (expecting?) a high reading, right? And when you say no stimulants or thermogenics, do you really mean NONE? No coffee that morning? Tea? A large soda at lunch before you went? (OK, unlikely for a T-Mag reader, but you get the point).

Nick


#17

Starting when I was 18, my blood pressure has occasionally spike for a few months (as high as 170/110). I go on meds, and it comes down. I always feel like shit on the meds, for some reason. Sometimes loopy, sometimes I get the runs, sometimes just crappy.

I'm 31 now, and no doctor has ever been able to explain to me why it goes up like it does. Usually, if it is high for a couple of months I go on meds until it goes down then get off for a year or so until it shoots back up.


#18

http://www.westonaprice.org/modern
diseases/prehypertension.html

Interesting reading. I don't believe in taking medication to fix the symptoms. It's like having a oil change warning light come on and you solve the problem by putting a piece of black tape over it and you continue to drive the car till the engine blows up. Not a perfect analogy but you get the idea. Fix the underlying problem that is causing the problems!


#19

Take the magnesium supplements, doc's use IV magnesium to lower bp. spend a tad more to get the better absorbed kind not the mag oxide. and take fish oil, my buddy added fish oil to his regime and his bp dropped 15 to 20 points, he was already on bp medication.
Good thing about these two supplements is that you probably need them any way and they're safe.


#20

Got the blood work back the other day. As far as the doc can tell, there's nothing wrong with me. All of the values were in the middle of the range, except HDL was low at about 38 instead of the minimum of 45. Total cholesterol was low, just the ratio was off.

I guess it's stress.

I've started taking magnesium, and soaking in Epsom salts (magnesium salts) as per another recommendation. We'll see what that does. I also started taking more calcium via milk products.

I also decide that I probably don't need to worry too much about this in the short term. I went to the gym today and worked on the treadmill (90 degrees and 100% humidity after a rain is not conducive to outside work) and ran my heart rate up to 175 for brief periods. I'm still alive, so I guess I'm OK for now.