Hypertension High Blood Pressure

My B.P has been normal to low for all of my life.  I am very active and eat relatively healthy.   However, for the past year my blood pressure has been slowly creeping up.  The top number went from 120, to 130, and a few weeks ago 136/100. 

At age 54 it concerned me.  My family has a history of high blood pressure.  My father, sister and aunt all have it and are on medication.

How did I know my blood pressure was high?  I had a few symptoms that were bothering me.  I had frequent headaches, where in the past I have had zero issues with headaches.  I was constantly tired and I had to take a break when walking up 2 flights of stairs.  That’s not usual for me seeing I run twice a week.  My heart kept pounding and my pulse would race for NO apparent reason.

Last week I was feeling particularly anxious about work and all the things I had to get accomplished.  I felt so overwhelmed and my heart kept racing.  I also felt dizzy.  I ended up stopping at CVS and walked over to the blood pressure machine that is in the back near the pharmacy.   I read the very easy instructions and put my arm in and let the machine do it’s work.  I almost passed out when I read the final result.

I ran out of there quick and went to the emergency walk in.  They referred me to the ER where I checked, explained my symptoms of 189/94 BP.  They had me put my finger in a finger pulse oximeter.  They didn’t say much except  “Take a seat over there and we will call you when it’s your turn for triage.”  At that time it was 4:30 pm.

I sat down thinking it would be about 15 minutes or so until I got called.  Boy was I wrong.  They called name after name after name.  After 1 hour passed they finally called me into triage.  I told them the same thing I told the registering desk person.  The nurse took my temp and blood pressure.  It was 159/94.  She then asked me to go back into the waiting room and wait for my name to be called to see the doctor.  Now 5:45 pm.

I’m thinking to myself, my blood pressure is pretty high, doesn’t anybody care?  What if I have a stroke?  My blood pressure is usually in the high 120’s.   I was just shoved back into the very crowded waiting room, which was standing room only.  People were hacking and coughing so hard, almost to the point of throwing up right in their seat.  I ended up doing a lot of walking around and not staying next to any sick people for too long.

After about 2 hours (7:45 pm) I was getting a bit anxious.  You see I had been waiting for a total of 3 hours now. I overheard a woman on her phone telling her friend that she had been there for 8 hours.  She was just about ready to leave and go home when they called her name.   She was one of the people that was coughing so hard and throwing up.

I was staring around at all the sick people around me and was trying to guess what was wrong with them.  Then one of the solid doors that says “No entrance” opened slowly.  A man in his 70’s came out sobbing.  He was on the phone.  He said to the person on the other end of the phone; “She didn’t make it, your her closest friend and I wanted to call you and tell you”, and he began to sob uncontrollably.  I got up to console him but by the time I made it through the crowd, he had gone back through to locked doors he had came from.  No wonder I am waiting so long.  Behind those doors were some really seriously sick or hurt people. 

While I was waiting I was able to view all the snacks everyone was buying from the vending machines.  Peanut M&M’s were a big hit along with plain lays chips (yellow bag), snickers, hot fries, skittles and a lot of soda and water.  The machines were so busy that at one point many things were selling out and the change mechanism wasn’t working correctly.  It wouldn’t take $5 bills anymore.  That was most likely because the machine was out of $1 bills for change.  I saw one man struggling to put in a $5 bill.  He did it like 10 times.  I walked over to him and explained the issue and gave him  5 $1.00 bills for his $5 and said try the single dollar.  He just stared at me with confusion.  I put the $1.00 bill in the machine and the machine sucked it right up.  He looked at me and smiled.  I finally realized he didn’t understand English.   In my very, very bad Spanish I think I sort of told him the cinco dolares no trabajo  solamente $1 dolares.  He nodded to me and smiled so he understood and said gracias.  I say  de nada.

I continued to pace the floors waiting and wondering when they would call me.  I looked around at all the very sick people with the flu, broken legs, arms, and one pregnant woman came in too.  She was 8 months along.  I jokingly thought to myself,  “Well there goes all of our places in line”.

It’s now 8:30 pm.  I have had enough of the waiting.

I walked up to the check in desk and asked how much longer for my name to be called so I can be seen by a doctor.  The nurse looked at the list and she said,  “Hmm let me see.  You have 8, 9, 10, nope 12 people ahead of you.”  That equates to another 3+ hours waiting.   I wish I had a picture of the look on my face when she told me that.  As politely as I could possibly be at this time of night I let her know I was leaving and to take my name off the list.  I also mentioned to please not send me a bill because I will not pay it.  Of course she had nothing to do with billing but I felt better saying it.

I walked out of the ER feeling just as lousy as I did when I walked in 4 hours prior.  I drove home, drank alot of water and a tea, then got in my pj’s, hugged my husband and the dogs and went to bed.  I slept okay despite the fact I thought I was going to die in my sleep  (LOL).

I followed up with my primary care doctor today.  When I arrived my BP was 159/80.  We waited a few minutes, took the BP again, and then it went down to the 139 range, which is still high for me.

We talked for a while and the doctor advised me to cut back on the salt, stress, red meat, sugar, alcohol and to exercise more.  She realizes I am only 115 pounds so it’s not weight that is causing the high BP.   High blood pressure does run in my family.  She wants to see me back in 3 weeks or sooner if I do not feel better. 

I had followed up with my primary care again as asked. She diagnosed me with anxiety.  Huh??  What??  Anxiety can cause your blood pressure to spike like THAT?  I was in disbelief.  The Dr. gave me some lorazepam to take as needed when I felt anxious however you CAN’T drive with that so I didn’t take any.   I have stopped by CVS several times this past week to take my BP and each time it was no lower than 139 on a good day.  It registered as high as 160 some days.

I called my Dr. back several times and they continued to dismissed it as anxiety.  Finally I pretty much had to demand an appointment and was seen by a nurse.  She took my BP and it was 139/84.  Still high.  She said she will let the Dr. know it’s still a bit high and someone would call me the next day.  No one called me back.   A few days later I went to get my allergy shots and it was still in the high 138 range.

I decided to do some research and here is what is slowly working for me without medication (so far).

I drastically reduced my salt in take, reduced alcohol consumption which was a glass or 2 of wine each night.  I am only having an occasional glass, no more every night sipping.   I also made sure I was getting 10,000 steps each and every day and started lifting weights at home.  I am attempting to do some yoga, meditating and stretching.  Meditating is harder than I thought.  My mind is so busy!  I need alot more practice at that.

I also purchased a home blood pressure machine from Best Buy or it’s also available on Amazon.com   It’s the Omrom 10 series.  It works GREAT!  I take my BP 3-4 times a day.  The first week I was taking it, it was high in the 150 range.  After 1 week of the changes I implemented my BP went down to the 130 range on a pretty regular basis.  This morning when I took it, my BP was 126/72.  In the late afternoon it shot up again to 135/86.

Even with the diet change there is still an issue with blood pressure. Time for another visit to my primary care to discuss medication.

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