Cheryl was a geriatric nurse assistant, a member of a church health and nutrition ministry and writes articles on senior-related issues.
The silent killer
Recently, on the CBS daytime drama The Young and the Restless, it was announced that the character Neil Winters died in his sleep of a heart attack due to undetected high blood pressure. I have a personal experience with BP numbers that are off the charts without realizing it. When my blood pressure began to average 150/90, my doctor asked if I wanted prescription medication, and I said no; I could do it with diet and exercise. I purchased two monitors to make sure I was getting accurate readings—and I did.
Often, when sitting still, my numbers would be 170/120, and it troubled me, but I continued attempting to eat healthily, walk five miles a day, and do deep breathing exercises. I would rejoice when I saw 120/75, but 10 minutes later, it would be 160/130 for no apparent reason. Once it was 250/145. I knew this was not good and was told it was dangerous and at stroke level. When a Facebook friend said she had a mini-stroke and her reading was 310/200, I believed I had some wiggle room. I prayed and kept going because I was supporting my husband through some health challenges. I never felt weak or dizzy, so I thought I was OK. This is why they call high blood pressure the silent killer—because you don't always have warnings.
Moment of awakening
In the midst of trying to lower my blood pressure naturally, I began having symptoms of a urinary tract infection. In the past, drinking lots of water and cranberry juice worked but not this time. The warning signs went away, and I thought I was healed. Unfortunately, my urine began to alternate between smelling sweet or having a rancid odor. I drank more water daily, ate blueberry yogurt and cranberries. The bad smell subsided but next experienced minor pelvic discomfort and signs of a vaginal infection. I increased eating blueberry yogurt because both yogurt and blueberries were said to remove harmful bacteria from the body. Both worked for me in the past. and things got better, so I believed I was on my way to total recovery. I had assumed that the infections were raising my blood pressure, but it turns out that it may have been the other way around.
This is my personal opinion, and I have no medical collaboration but only my story that I lived in. I share it so that someone else may have a point of reference that may help their medical situation. I finally gave in and decided to take prescription blood pressure medication. Tests also confirmed the UTI was back, so I was put on an antibiotic. for seven days. So I'm taking all these meds and everything got worse. My diastolic BP number (the bottom one) would not go lower than 100, and the UTI symptoms increased. I began feeling weak and experiencing pelvic pain as if I were having menstrual cramps. I had to urinate practically every 10 minutes, and I was miserable. I went back to the doctor who decided to prescribe me a second medication for my blood pressure. I had so many moments of feeling like a failure because my natural remedies were no longer working. There was a time when I could lay hands on myself and pray away everything, but now, I was dealing with something that would not go away.
I was afraid I would have to have a second round of antibiotics, so I said nothing about the other symptoms I was dealing with. A few days after beginning the second blood pressure medication, all my other symptoms began to subside on their own. And now a month later, they have remained so. No more white tongue, vaginal irritation, rectal pressure, frequent urination, bad smell, or pelvic pain. My blood pressure is averaging 110/70, and for that I am thankful. It is still my goal to utilize diet and exercise, and at some point, not need all of this medication. I do realize that at age 60, I will more than likely not have the same results I did at 30 or 40, but I will do the best I can.
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It is my personal belief that the UTI and other issues would not go away because they were being exasperated by high blood pressure. How else can I explain their disappearing after my numbers remained in the normal range for a period of time? I also believe that because hypertension often has no symptoms that God allowed the other issues to get me to the doctor so I could get the proper medical treatment. I do not believe it is God's perfect will for us to take prescriptions medications that can have side effects but, we live in an imperfect world. If not for prescription drugs, many people would have died. This has been a reality check for me to really work hard to live healthier. I had a relative who was a champion bodybuilder who died suddenly of a massive heart attack at 62. He ate healthily and worked out regularly but refused blood pressure meds when his doctor suggested them.
In this life, we sometimes have to make tough choices that humble us and I wonder if he had tried the medication, would his life have been extended? So back to my point, it is looking to me as if the high blood pressure kept the other medical issues from being resolved. So if you are dealing with health issues that just won't go away, even after treatment and you also deal with hypertension, please consider that the two may be connected.
If you are over age 60, are not on any medication, and your blood pressure remains within the guidelines, I am happy for you. I ask that you please don't judge anyone who does require prescription drugs. All of us age differently, and lifestyle and heredity are different for us all. In my situation, I was helping raise three grandchildren, assisting my spouse with his medical issues and babysitting my son's godchild. No matter how hard I tried, as long as all of this was a factor I simply could not reduce stress in spite of exercise, walking and eating healthy.
I am also a menopausal woman who is not sleeping the hours that I need, and every bit of it plays a part in overall health. I am slowly making some changes, but I will not be down in the dumps if I do not meet my goals 100%. We all have personal choices to make and the playing field is not always level. Again, I say to please pay attention to how your blood pressure affects every other aspect of your life and do all you can to get it under control.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2019 Cheryl E Preston
Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on April 28, 2019:
I am also on 2 blood pressure medications, although they are both low dosages. I don't want a stroke, so I take them. I understand your concerns, but it sounds like your blood pressure was even higher than mine. You also had the UTI's, which I didn't, so it sounds like you made a good decision.