Twenty years ago, when I was first diagnosed with hypertension as a twenty-something fatso, the numbers were 190/110. It runs in the family – my Dad has it, so it wasn’t all that much of a shock that I would get it, too.
I went to my Dad’s cardiologist at the time and he put me on Vasoretic – the generic enalapril with a diuretic (water pill).
The first few months really sucked. When acclimating yourself to a bodily environment where your heart is not about to blow a gasket for the first time in years, you feel awful – tired, lethargic, dizzy. It took me at least 3 months to get used to a lower blood pressure. The drug got me down to about 140/90 – not great, but a helluva lot better than 190/110.
A succession of docs tried to get it a bit lower, but to no avail. The 90 in the 140/90 was what concerned them. For the resting pressure (systolic), it was still too high. It must be noted that my weight at the time – maybe 225 and steadily climbing – played a part, but docs sometimes ignore weight as a factor – they seem to feel it’s hopeless to even try to change that factor, so they focus on other means.
Then, in 2003, I went on a low carb diet and lost a significant amount of weight – about 60 lbs. When I next had my blood pressure taken, I was 120/80 – perfect blood pressure for the first time in 20 years.
Fast forward to yesterday. I went to the doc on an unrelated issue, and as always, the nurse checks your blood pressure prior to the doctor seeing you. She took it and reported the numbers:
112 over 68
I’m an almost 6-foot guy in his forties with a family history of hypertension. Those numbers sounded like the blood pressure of a five-foot, 70 lb old lady.
Could a guy my size even walk around with blood pressure so low?
I asked the doc, and he smiled, as if thinking to himself: “Modern medicine wins one.”
“Oh, those are very good numbers. If you don’t regularly feel dizzy, then the pressure isn’t too low for you. We like to see these numbers as low as possible.”
Reassured that this wasn’t too low, I tried to figure out why it would be going so low now. When I lost my 80 lbs, it wasn’t this low – and I’ve actually gained weight since then.
Was it the maintaining a 65 lb weigh loss that has allowed my body to adjust the pressure downward?
Then, I just happened to open a magazine I was reading that claimed that magnesium can help control hypertension. I have been taking a magnesium supplement for over a year now – might that be playing a role?
I also got a note from a correspondent that mentioned low carbohydrate diets cause hypotension. It was made to sound like a bad thing – and it is – unless you have high blood pressure.
I have a full physical coming up in the next week, and I intend to ask my doctor about this – and see if I can get my medication adjusted to a lower dose – I only take one prescription medication – the Vasotec – and when I went on low carb, one dream was to stop all prescription meds completely.
Maybe it is possible.