Hello everyone. I'm new here, and I apologize for asking for advice on my first post, I'm just rather alarmed!
I work at a pharmacy (not a pharmacist!) and I decided to check my blood pressure. It was 177/120! I have been trying to figure out why this number was so high. I'm 22, I exercise at least an hour a day and walk daily in addition to that and am a healthy weight. I am vegan and try my best to eat a balanced diet, and my favorite foods are vegetables. In fact, I kept track of all my food intake for a week and gave it to a friend who is studying nutrition. She said everything was great except that my salt intake was twice what it should be, which really doesn't surprise me at all since I don't have a sweet tooth but do enjoy salty foods (pickles, popcorn etc). I am currently being more aware of how much salt I am eating, and am cutting back. I also take birth control pills, and I've heard this can have an impact.
The only other thing I can think of is the fact that I am terrible at handling stress, and I worry about everything/everyone. As a result I get huge amounts of tension headaches, which are often chronic. I also have always gotten migraines since I was a child. I have depression, and do get anxiety/anxiety attacks sometimes when I am especially stressed out or worried. I meditate everyday and try breathing exercises to control my episodes of anxiety, and currently am looking for some sort of counselor/psychologist.
I'm wondering if any of these are causing my problem, or if there is something else. My fathers side of the family has low blood pressure, and my mothers side is relatively normal. If anyone has any advice to me as why it is so high, and/or what I can do about it, please let me know. I will be visiting my doctor next time I am in my home town in a few weeks to discuss this further with him.
Thanks for taking the time to read this.
So first off, you're right that a blood pressure of 177/120 is absolutely abnormal, BUT you have to make sure that is an accurate reading. I'm not sure if you're thin or not, but sometimes the blood pressure readings can be artificially high if someone has really big arms (due to muscle OR fat) which then overly constricts the cuff and causes a falsely elevated reading.
Assuming the reading is correct, it is very unlikely due to stress because of the high diastolic pressure. You need to be investigated by a doctor, and preferably one who has training in internal medicine. Most high blood pressure which is seen in older individuals is a direct result of the stiffening of arteries which occurs with age. This is known as essential hypertension. 90% of hypertension (high blood pressure) in adults >55 is due to essential hypertension; however, in younger individuals, the chances of the high blood pressure being from something else is much greater. There are a number of different conditions which can cause high blood pressure in young women and a bunch of things need to be ruled out.
Some things include: renal artery stenosis from fibromuscular dysplasia, coarctation of the aorta, kidney function impairment, cushing's disease, conn's disease, hyperthyroidism, hyperparathyroidism etc. etc.
It's great that you eat healthy and exercise, but remember that IF there is something wrong with your blood pressure, it is likely unrelated to your lifestyle. Whatever you do, get yourself checked out as soon as possible. High blood pressure in itself is not a huge thing in the short run (unless your pressure goes over 200), but it IS something which can cause a lot of damage over time to many different organs in the body.
Thanks for your responses.
I have an athletic/slim build, but my arms have always been somewhat large compared to the rest of my body, but not huge by any means, just slightly larger, as I do have decent amount of muscle there, as well as some fat, since it's one of my trouble spots. However, my arms are are still smaller than most people I know, so I assume that's not the problem? However, the machine was extremely tight, to the point of causing pain, is this an issue?
I checked my blood pressure twice. The second time it inflated, then deflated a bit, then inflated again, which I don't think is normal.
I've also just read today that low calcium can impact high blood pressure, and I am vegan (don't drink milk, eat cheese etc.) so I think I'll pick up some calcium supplements tonight.
I won't be able to go to see my family doctor for a while, but I will go to out-patients this week.
Also, I have read that drinking can increase someones blood pressure. Should I avoid drinking until I get this figured out? It is a friends birthday tomorrow and we were planning on going out, but I'm now thinking I should skip it. Any thoughts?
Thank you all again, and sorry about these long posts!
I hope those numbers are not accurate... you could have a stroke!! I advise you double check it with another machine if you cant get in to see your doctor. When I had numbers lower than yours, I laid in bed not moving just so my BP would not increase.
Last edited by Flutterbye77; 02-17-2009 at 04:58 PM.
I'm going to the walk-in clinic tomorrow morning. I bought some Calcium supplements last night, in case that is the cause (and I should be taking them anyway, even if it's not the cause). I'll give an update tomorrow...
Be very careful with the calcium supplements. Have the DR. do a blood test first to see what your blood calcium is. My daughter has permanent damage to her kidneys from taking too much calcium. Also, calcium can increase blood clotting which you certainly don't need with a high b/p.
Ask your Dr. if you need to be taking magnesium & Vit. D with the calcium especially since you eat a Vegan diet. Hope you have gotten nutritional counseling before trying the diet. I eat a vegetarian diet too along with milk products & eggs (Wt. Watchers)
If you do decide to take calcium, it is important to drink plenty of fluids to prevent kidney damage & severe constipation. Be careful not to drink fluids fast because that can raise one's b/p. For example, drinking 16oz of fluids in a 15min period can raise one's b/p 20 points for 2 hrs. I take about an 1 1/2 hrs to drink 16oz.
If your pulse is up too, you could be developing a thyroid problem.
Your heart doesn't get a chance to rest when the diastolic is that high. Good luck. Fam
I have an appointment for noon today. I'll let you know what they say. Hopefully they can do a blood test for me. I won't take the calcium supplements until I hear back. I do drink two glasses of soy milk a day, which are supposed to have 30% of my calcium in each glass. I also eat broccoli and kale, etc, to get more. I thought that was enough (and maybe it is?) but that's the only thing I can think of that can make my blood pressure THAT high.
I did test myself on two different pharmacy machines. My roommate also checked his, and he was 144/9-something (sorry, I forget). His was on the high end as well (but obviously not the absurdly high reading I had). I don't know if his was inaccurate or not though. He doesn't eat well and he really doesn't exercise much, so this just worries me more.
Some of the symptoms of very high blood pressure seem to be headache and anxiety. The problem is, I've had those all my life, so it isn't really ringing any alarm bells. I've actually had low blood pressure as a child, so now I'm just very confused. I hope the doctor can help me out! I'll let you know what he/she says...
I went to the walk in clinic. She checked my blood pressure twice, was very concerned and sent me directly to the Emergency Room. I was there for 7 hours. It was a kind of scary experience, because they were really really worried. My blood pressure was about 210/140 when I got there. I didn't have any symptoms whatsoever, and they seemed amazed by that. No headache, no dizzyness, nausea, blurred vision, etc. I felt completely fine. They did some blood work/heart scans/ultra sounds. They're going to have to get back to me, but they said my heart is very healthy, just beating very hard and fast for some reason. They believe it is caused by the St. John's Wort that I take and made even worse by my birth control, so I was told to stop both immediately, and we'll do more blood tests/heart rate tests over the next few weeks to see if it makes a difference. People kept asking me why I had high blood pressure (and they were the doctors, not me!). They said I was a very healthy young woman and it just doesn't make sense. One doctor even admitted that he had assumed I must be overweight until he came in to meet me. This just all freaks me out more, since I don't understand why this is happening to me.
Anyway, I have an appointment to see a cardiologist tomorrow, and I was given some medication today and have to pick the rest up from a prescription tomorrow. I'll be going in for checkups with this particular doctor for the next few months, until this gets sorted out. They strongly believe that this is being caused by something secondary, and can be "cured" in the next few months. Even if it is, I'll be sure to keep an eye on my blood pressure from now on! It scares me that I just happened to check by chance. Who knows what would have happened if I hadn't? This is definitely scary stuff, and I hope anyone reading this that doesn't get things like this checked will do it now!
Thanks again for your help. I'll keep posting to let people know how things are going.
Bless your heart. This all must be very stressful for you. You sound amazingly calm
Hopefully cutting out the birth control will go far to help bring your BP down. I'm curious what med they gave you? Have you bought a home monitor to check it at home?
It stinks to do all the right things (exercise, eat right, live healthy) and still run into these kinds of problems. On the plus side, it should make diagnosis easier, since it is obviously not caused by your lifestyle!
I don't have much to add, but wanted to send you some encouragement. I'm sure your doctors will get to the bottom of this with you! (and thank god for pharamacy machines, right? )
So glad that your heart checks out. You are ahead of the game already especially given your age.
How is your pulse? Fast I would think. Make sure that the Dr. checks your thyroid. He would do a TSH & maybe a T3 & T4. The results are ready the same day at most labs.
I found that it helped to write out a plan. This gives you a sense of control over the situation. I used my journal (just a spiral double spaced note book.) It is important to keep notes about your present medical situation.
I kept writing that my b/p would be get under control eventually even though the DR's were wringing their hands. The power of one's mind is really motivating to those around you even the DRS.
It spears them to find a solution.
Your plan might start with stopping your birthcontrol pills & your herb. Make a list of enjoyable things that you can do to relax. Distract yourself with these things when you can. Try not to think about b/p 24/7. Avoid weight lifting or other hard physical effort since this raises one's b/p. Avoid constipation which causes a sudden b/p increase while straining. Check out the DASH diet for hypertension. It has been proven to decrease b/p. In other words do what you can to reduce your b/p while the medication starting to work. There are lots of people on this board who are more than willing to help you so keep in touch. Fam
You know you might be a good candidate for Biofeedback. That's where sensors are hooked up to you skin, pulse etc while you learn to control your breathing etc. I loved it but because I am on such a high dose of a alpha/beta blocker the sensors won't work. Fam
While I know this must be very scary and difficult for you, I"m glad you were able to be shuttled in the right direction in order the doctors to get to the bottom of this.
It is common for people to show up with "hypertensive urgencies" like yourself and not have any symptoms. I'm surprised the emergency room physicians were so surprised! You're probably going to be asked the same questions over and over again when you see different doctors. Don't get discouraged, and I ENcourage you to try to answer all of them the best you can. When doctors ask questions in a history, they are always trying to rule in and rule out certain diagnoses to narrow down the field. The same questions are often asked multiple times because oftentimes patients will all of a sudden remember something, or answer differently which changes the course of investigations.
Back to your blood pressure: I agree that your high pressure is likely "secondary" to something else. In other words, it is not "Essential Hypertension". There are a lot of things that can cause high blood pressure, and when it ends up being a drug (like St. John's wort) it's nicer because all you do is stop the medication and it goes away. Weird question, but do you eat a lot of black licorice?
The other thing that is important is that, if it's found that your hypertension is secondary to a drug you're taking, they should still look for underlying causes because, while things like the birth control pill can raise your blood pressure the fact that yours is so high suggests some kind of underlying tendency towards hypertension.