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  • 20 years old and high blood pressure? - Please Help!

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    Old 01-11-2004, 08:22 PM   #1
    nospin06
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    20 years old and high blood pressure? - Please Help!

    Greetings everyone,

    I just turned 20 this month and am currently a sophomore in college. I went in for a checkup recently (I haven't been to a checkup since 2000!) and discovered that my BP is high for a person my age. My right arm registered at 165/70 and left arm was at 150/70. In terms of my physical condition, I am 5'6'', 160 lbs. I played football in highschool and weight training has been a part of my workouts since. I consider myself to be pretty fit and in good health. In terms of my diet routine, I try to stay away from junk and fatty foods. I always opt for a salad or a subway sandwich instead of a slice of pizza.

    My doctor put me on hydrochlorothiazide 12.5mg taken twice a day, and I've been using the drug for about 5 days now. I have an appointment with a cardiologist tomorrow for an evaluation.

    I'm worried about having high BP at such a young age. Could it be attributed to the fact that I am usually pretty stressed out? Schoolwork and my part-time job pretty much occupy most of my days, and also stress me out at times. What could the reason be?

    Any help will be appreciated. Thank you.

    Last edited by nospin06; 01-11-2004 at 08:23 PM.

     
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    Old 01-11-2004, 09:50 PM   #2
    wr6969
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    Re: 20 years old and high blood pressure? - Please Help!

    Hi there nospin. Your doctor was right in saying that for someone your age, your BP seems to be high. I've noticed that only the systolic number is high, while the diastolic looks good! I wonder if you've done some research on a phenomenon called "isolated systolic hypertension" to find out what exactly this is, and what contributing factors are to this condition.

    Your doctor has also started you on what is commonly referred to as the "water pill" - normally the first line of defence against hypertension, and normally prescribed by doctors with a "conservative" approach to treating it. I think the main purpose of this drug is for you to visit the toilet more often, purging any (mainly) excessive salt from the body, which contributes to hypertension. However, it can also lower potassium levels to potentially unsafe levels, so it's always safe to do some blood tests to determine its effects on the potassium levels in your body. Having said this, there are now potassium sparing HCTZs in the market.

    A couple of questions come to mind:

    (1) has your doctor asked you about family history of heart disease or hypertension? Hypertension is unfortunately a family 'heirloom" that you can't escape from!

    (2) has your doctor investigated other underlying causes for your condition? Have you recently done a full blood examination?

    (3) were you having an illness when you visited your doctor? Common ailments like the cold and flu has been known to increase BP!

    (4) has your doctor ruled out "white-coat" syndrome where a patient is terrified of having his/her BP taken in a doctor's environment, freaks out thereby causing his/her BP to rise unnecessarily? One method to ensure this is not the case is to buy a BP monitor and take measurements at home. Bear in mind that BP fluctuates throughout the day, so you won't get constant readings; hence the need to perhaps jot down on a piece of paper the time and BP numbers for recording purposes to show it to the doctor if required. You'd probably want to take your pressure upon waking up, after lunchtime, and before going to bed as a minimum.

    Stress has been known to increase your BP numbers, along with a state of anxiety. However, it is normally both numbers that are affected, ie. the systolic and diastolic, whereas in your case, only the systolic is elevated.

     
    Old 01-11-2004, 10:46 PM   #3
    zuzu8
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    Re: 20 years old and high blood pressure? - Please Help!

    Hi Nospin-
    WR6969 asked some great questions, and the answer to question #2 is very important. When someone your age presents with hypertension it is critical that your doctor rule out secondary causes. A complete blood panel would be basic. And possibly scans of kidneys and adrenal glands to look for benign tumors which can elevate the BP. Note I said benign... So don't panic at the word tumor!

    Were you put on the meds after only one visit to the doctor?
    A one-time elevated reading is no justification to put you on HCTZ. Your BP should be monitored over several weeks before a diagnosis of true "primary" hypertension can be made.
    I would be curious to hear what the cardiologist has to say, and what further tests he/she wants done for you.

    zuzu xx

     
    Old 01-12-2004, 10:39 AM   #4
    nospin06
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    Re: 20 years old and high blood pressure? - Please Help!

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by wr6969
    Hi there nospin. Your doctor was right in saying that for someone your age, your BP seems to be high. I've noticed that only the systolic number is high, while the diastolic looks good! I wonder if you've done some research on a phenomenon called "isolated systolic hypertension" to find out what exactly this is, and what contributing factors are to this condition.

    - I am not familiar with that particular case of HBP, but I hope to find some answers when I visit the cardiologist today.

    Your doctor has also started you on what is commonly referred to as the "water pill" - normally the first line of defence against hypertension, and normally prescribed by doctors with a "conservative" approach to treating it. I think the main purpose of this drug is for you to visit the toilet more often, purging any (mainly) excessive salt from the body, which contributes to hypertension. However, it can also lower potassium levels to potentially unsafe levels, so it's always safe to do some blood tests to determine its effects on the potassium levels in your body. Having said this, there are now potassium sparing HCTZs in the market.

    A couple of questions come to mind:

    (1) has your doctor asked you about family history of heart disease or hypertension? Hypertension is unfortunately a family 'heirloom" that you can't escape from!

    - Yes, my grandfather had HBP and I believe my uncle does too at the moment. My dad on the other hand seems to be fine (130/70).

    (2) has your doctor investigated other underlying causes for your condition? Have you recently done a full blood examination?

    - My last blood test was back in 1999. Everything was fine, cholesterol levels, etc. However, I had my BP check back in 2000 and it was high as well (150/70), and that was when I was in the best shape of my life during the football season.

    (3) were you having an illness when you visited your doctor? Common ailments like the cold and flu has been known to increase BP!

    - I was not sick or ill at the time.

    (4) has your doctor ruled out "white-coat" syndrome where a patient is terrified of having his/her BP taken in a doctor's environment, freaks out thereby causing his/her BP to rise unnecessarily? One method to ensure this is not the case is to buy a BP monitor and take measurements at home. Bear in mind that BP fluctuates throughout the day, so you won't get constant readings; hence the need to perhaps jot down on a piece of paper the time and BP numbers for recording purposes to show it to the doctor if required. You'd probably want to take your pressure upon waking up, after lunchtime, and before going to bed as a minimum.

    Stress has been known to increase your BP numbers, along with a state of anxiety. However, it is normally both numbers that are affected, ie. the systolic and diastolic, whereas in your case, only the systolic is elevated.

    - I certainly was a bit nervous; hopefully my visit to the cardiologist will provide some answers and good news.
    Thanks wr6969 for your help! I will provide an update once I get back from the cardiologist today.

    Last edited by nospin06; 01-12-2004 at 10:40 AM.

     
    Old 01-12-2004, 01:04 PM   #5
    pslam 91
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    Re: 20 years old and high blood pressure? - Please Help!

    Hi, just to add to that. My husband and I work with a lot of youth through church activities. We notice that young people can drink ALOT of caffinated drinks without batting an eye. (and suger products) We have seen young boys drink too many "Mountain Dews"(very high in caffiene) when away from their parents.
    Also, cold, flu and allergy remedies can also elevated your blood pressure.
    My point being, watch your intake of foods and meds and see if that may be effecting you. And YES!!! Stress can effect your b/p! Take it easy, and try not to push yourself too hard. See where you can cut back on semester hours or work hours etc. After you give yourself a season of evaluating your lifestyle, then see about meds. Bless you!

     
    Old 01-12-2004, 04:49 PM   #6
    nospin06
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    Re: 20 years old and high blood pressure? - Please Help!

    Hi everyone,

    I just came back from the cardiologist and here's what happened:

    1) I had my BP tested and the results are the same. Right arm: 160/70
    Left arm: 150/70. Seems as though the hydorchlorothiazide 12.5mg has not been working, but it's only been 5 days. The cardiologist recommended that I take the whole pill in the morning (25mg) instead of half of the pill in the morning and half at night, which I have been doing.

    2) I do not recall the name of the machine, but sensors were placed on my chest and ankles to analyze my heart rate. The tests turned out fine, no problems there.

    3) The cardiologist tested my pulse on my wrists and ankles, no problems there.

    4) The cardiologist sent me to get a blood test to test my thyroid and then set me up with an appointment this Thursday to get EKG.

    The cause of my high HBP is still undetermined, but hopefully the EKG will be able to solve that. The only reason my cardiologist and I discussed was that HBP does run in my family. My grandfather had it, my uncle has it, BUT my father, mother, and sister do not.

    For those who had an EKG, what exactly goes on during the process?
    Thanks.

    BTW, thanks to wrwr69, zuzu8, and pslam 91 for your insight and support. I greatly appreciate it.

     
    Old 01-12-2004, 05:23 PM   #7
    sugarplum_pdx
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    Re: 20 years old and high blood pressure? - Please Help!

    Nospin, I don't think you've mentioned, do you feel nervous when you're at the doctor's office? Do you think that's contributing to your readings? Have you ever tried taking your BP at a drugstore? I know they aren't always accurate, but it might be good just for comparison. I know that for me, my BP shoots way up when I'm nervous, which is anytime I have to see a doctor. But it'll usually go way down when I relax. So, another related question would be - did the doctor take several readings, once when you first got there and again at the end of the appointment? All of those factors could help determine whether you truly have high blood pressure or if it's just situational.

     
    Old 01-12-2004, 07:47 PM   #8
    wr6969
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    Re: 20 years old and high blood pressure? - Please Help!

    It's an interesting situation that nospin is in. I say this because only the systolic number is high, and "white-coat" syndrome would normally affect both numbers. That was why I suggested getting a home BP monitor for home monitoring, as well as researching further on this phenomenon called "isolated systolic hypertension".

    Anyhow, the EKG is simply a readout of the electrical activity of your heart. What happens is that some wires are attached to your chest, arms and legs. You lie still, and the cardiologist/doctor/nurse will take the reading for a few minutes. No sweating/exercise/pain involved! This will tell the doctor whether there is something to be concerned about your heartbeat, and whether further tests are necessary. One of the possible things that can be done is for you to wear a portable 24 ambulatory BP monitor which can record your BP thoughout the day, to determine if your systolic number is always high, or whether there is a pattern to it. But all this will be at the doctor's discretion.

    As for family history, as far as I can recall, if your direct family has it, it is likely that you will have it to, but in your case, you've mentioned that your entire family does not have it! I'm not certain if this condition can "skip" a generation though!

    Oh, and one last thing - would you describe yourself as an easily panicked/anxious person? Stress caused by unnecessary anxiety attacks certainly raise BP!

     
    Old 01-12-2004, 07:54 PM   #9
    nospin06
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    Re: 20 years old and high blood pressure? - Please Help!

    wr6969,

    I am definitely an anxious person. The pressure to succeed at school definitely attributes to the anxiety and stress. I can be known to be a perfectionist in my work and I tend to worry about the next test at school or even the next doctor's appointment in life! However, I am an amiable person who surrounds himself with good friends. I do not smoke or drink, and never have. I guess you could say that I am an anxious person at heart.

    Also, how many bananas should I be eating everyday to combat the drop in potassium from the hydrochlorothiazide? So far today, I've eaten 4 spread out over the course of the day. 1 for breakfast, 1 for lunch, 1 afternoon, and 1 in the evening. I've heard that one should only eat 2 bananas max per day. Did I eat too many?

    Last edited by nospin06; 01-12-2004 at 08:06 PM.

     
    Old 01-13-2004, 02:29 AM   #10
    leviathan85
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    Re: 20 years old and high blood pressure? - Please Help!

    Hi, Nospin.

    Did your physician just prescribe you anti-hypertensives on a first visit? Especially for someone of your age, the minimum he should be doing before labelling you hypertensive is two blood pressure readings a day for three days. Furthermore, at this point he should be suspecting a known pathological cause for such an elevated BP and a person of your age. It is common to check CBC, do a urinalysis, measure levels of cholesterol, sodium, potassium, creatinine, glucose, etc...

    Let us know what the cardiologist thinks, I'm interested in hearing.

    Thanks.

     
    Old 01-13-2004, 02:41 AM   #11
    zip2play
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    Re: 20 years old and high blood pressure? - Please Help!

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by nospin06
    wr6969,

    Also, how many bananas should I be eating everyday to combat the drop in potassium from the hydrochlorothiazide? So far today, I've eaten 4 spread out over the course of the day. 1 for breakfast, 1 for lunch, 1 afternoon, and 1 in the evening. I've heard that one should only eat 2 bananas max per day. Did I eat too many?
    nospin,

    Since thiazides work by dumping excess sodium ions va the urine thus carrying off water and lowering overall BP and in order to preserve the body;s electrical balance must throw off potassium, magnesium and SAVE uric acid, you can really screw up your minerals with this treatment over time.

    Thus you are eating bananas to replace the potassium. DO NOT WORRY....unless you are using salt subtitutes, or taking potassium supplements, it is virtually IMPOSSIBLE to get too much potassium via food. Eat as many bananas (and orange juice) as your heart desires!
    You might want to look into a magnesium supplement...health food store MgO is the cheapest (one a day).

    Personally, I think thiazides are a preposterous way to treat your rather "rare" condition. Lowering the vascular supply of fluid seems preposterous with a 70 diastolic....mention to the doctor "won't the "water pill" lower the diastolic to perhaps dizzy-making levels"....watch him squirm.

    Your situation is complex and needs a GOOD doctor to asscertain the reason for some apparent "vascular stiffness" somewhere. The BP of itself won;t hurt you because between beats, the heart gets a GOOD reat at 70 mm Hg. but you want to find the OTHER problem. (But doubtfully a serious one). Internet research that ISOLATED SYSTOLIC PRESSURE that wr mentiions- that's really what you have.

    And eat all the bananas you fancy!

     
    Old 01-13-2004, 10:07 AM   #12
    HeatherW
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    Re: 20 years old and high blood pressure? - Please Help!

    NoSpin,
    Just out of curiosity, What is your potassium reading? Was it low before the meds? Heather W.

     
    Old 01-13-2004, 10:21 AM   #13
    sportmom
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    Re: 20 years old and high blood pressure? - Please Help!

    My skinny 17 year old also has isolated systolic hypertension (150/60). Everything in the literature says that is a stiffening of arteries in old age. No doctors can explain it in my son (and we've been to 2 cardiologists and 2 nephrologists.) What is really frustrating after accepting that he needs to take medicine to get the systolic to normal levels for his age, in a year and a half we find that no medicines work! Most medicines work much better on diastolic BP than systolic. One nephrologist did say he thought diuretics would NOT work because "with it being systolic and his age, sodium isn't the problem." He's currently on the max Diovan (320 mg) and diltiazem 240 mg and still has BP's in the 140's a lot. Nospin, patience is certainly required in the diagnosis of hypertension!

     
    Old 01-13-2004, 11:35 AM   #14
    nospin06
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    Re: 20 years old and high blood pressure? - Please Help!

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by sportmom
    My skinny 17 year old also has isolated systolic hypertension (150/60). Everything in the literature says that is a stiffening of arteries in old age. No doctors can explain it in my son (and we've been to 2 cardiologists and 2 nephrologists.) What is really frustrating after accepting that he needs to take medicine to get the systolic to normal levels for his age, in a year and a half we find that no medicines work! Most medicines work much better on diastolic BP than systolic. One nephrologist did say he thought diuretics would NOT work because "with it being systolic and his age, sodium isn't the problem." He's currently on the max Diovan (320 mg) and diltiazem 240 mg and still has BP's in the 140's a lot. Nospin, patience is certainly required in the diagnosis of hypertension!
    Sportmom,

    The cardiologist did mention the possiblity of a narrowing or stiffened artery, due to the fact that both my arms have different readings. Left = 150/70, Right = 160/70; sounds pretty scary to me! Is there a known cure or treatment for this?

    I had the blood test done after the appointment with the cardiologist and will be discussing the results with her this Thursday.

     
    Old 01-14-2004, 04:03 PM   #15
    nospin06
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    Re: 20 years old and high blood pressure? - Please Help!

    On another note, I read that HCTZ can cause hair loss. Is this true?

     
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