Natural, Non-Toxic Approaches to Treating Hypertension By D. Carestia – Part 1

In the fall of 2006, at age 57, I was admitted to the emergency room at our local hospital with blood pressure readings of 195/115. This was accompanied by chest pain, not because I was having a heart attack as it turned out, but because blood pressure that high can readily cause heart and chest discomfort.

The emergency room doctors immediately started me on Plavix to thin my blood as a precautionary measure to a cardiac event, even though my EKG, cardiac enzymes, and chest x-ray were normal, and they also began administering Lopressor by IV to bring my blood pressure down. Lopressor is a beta blocker and over the course of several hours of IV treatment, my blood pressure was brought down to normal levels in the low 120’s over 70’s. I will never forget the next morning after all that plavix – I just about bled to death from a few minor shaving cuts that just wouldn’t stop bleeding my blood was so thin!

Of course I saw my internist the next day during his rounds and he was quite concerned and adamant that I undergo a treadmill test and a cardiac ultrasound so that he could verify the blocked coronary blood vessels that he strongly suspected I had. After confirming my blocked blood vessels, he would then put me on the path to angioplasty or coronary artery bypass. After all, he had treated my father for those same maladies, and had referred him to a cardiologist for angioplasty when he was 63.

On the other hand, I felt that it was highly unlikely that I had blocked coronary arteries. After all, I climbed the mountain behind my home in Montana several times each week which was 45 minutes straight up without resting, and I had never experienced any chest discomfort during that climb. Additionally, from there I hiked another 90 minutes up and down to get back to my house. I did aerobic exercise, swimming, and weight training the other 3 days of the week. I took one day off each week just to relax from my workout routines. I also ate pretty right although I had always been a bit stocky and my cholesterol was a little over 200 with my HDL at a pretty low 36. (We can talk about cholesterol later on also!).

My internist was somewhat shocked to find that I was able to do the 13 minutes required on the treadmill relatively easily and that my cardiac ultrasound showed no signs of any blockage or any lack of blood supply to my heart muscles. My ejection fractions were enviable, and I was not considered a huge risk for a heart attack based on that testing. Yet, my blood pressure was high.

Shortly after my treadmill test, I was placed on a beta blocker, atenolol. This is a quite common beta blocker used by medical doctors to lower blood pressure in the U.S. (however, not so commonly used in Britain anymore). It also slows the heart rate, and just try to get a good workout on that stuff!!??!! It is VERY difficult to get your heart rate up to therapeutic levels with a good dose of atenolol on board. In addition, I felt just terrible on that drug. It made me physically sluggish, slow and hazy of mind and thought, and depressed. You would be surprised, as I was, at all the negative side effects reported by users of beta blockers as well as all the other blood pressure drugs.

As a result, my doctor switched me to an ace inhibitor, a tried a true oldie but goodie, fosinopril. But what’s with that freaking cough that comes with it every night?!? The ace inhibitor wasn’t quite as depressive on my mind and my system, but it didn’t do as good a job at lowering my blood pressure, so my doctor added a handy dandy diuretic to the mix, another common blood pressure drug called hydrochlorothiazide. Interestingly, my pvc’s (premature ventricular contractions) seemed to increase in numbers on these drugs. Oh, and they never stopped on the beta blockers either, also much to my doctor’s surprise.

I had side effects from the ace inhibitor/diuretic combination too. If you want to have some fun, just google “negative side effects of” beta blockers, ace inhibitors, and then diuretics. You will be quite surprised to likely find your own side effects listed and complained about by others just as I was.

Once you are on blood pressure drugs it is VERY difficult to get off of them. Excuse me if I believe that it is planned that way. The body begins to rely on the drugs to control blood pressure, and it experiences a “rebound effect” when someone tries to eliminate the drug. I assure you, I speak from experience on the difficulty of controlling hypertension without drugs once you have started taking them. Yet, I am very much into natural approaches to diet, life, and good health. I thought, “there has to be a better way” of controlling this hypertension that in large measure, in my case at least, was most likely caused by stress from a serious and very worrisome family event.

So, I set out on a long journey of study and discovery.

Click here to read Part 2 >>

Do you have a story or tip living with high blood pressure that you would like to share »

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