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Blood Pressure Experiments
Old 04-30-2013, 11:57 AM   #1
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Blood Pressure Experiments

This is a followup to a post I made a year ago:

Blood Pressure -- Experiments and Stategies

I've been measuring my blood pressure in a standard way for almost two years now, experimenting with different supplements, strategies, etc. I'll write things up in more detail at some point, but here are my initial conclusions.

First, I found that BP experiments are hard, because measurements are so variable (partly due to the monitor), and it may take weeks or months to see the results of a particular treatment. To deal with that I measured frequently, and tried to keep treatments constant for a long period.

My approach was to initially hit the BP problem with everything I could think of (low salt, high potassium, magnesium, meditation, etc.), then eliminate things to see what caused the BP to rise again. I started the shotgun approach on Jan 26, 2012.



The data points represent an average of the last five BP measurements. Thus one unusually high or low measurement can cause a spike.

To reduce variability, I'd always measure right after waking in the morning, and would wait exactly 1.5 minutes after sitting down to take the measurement. This overestimates my BP -- if I do it later in the day, waiting a full five minutes, I usually get a lower value.

As you can see, I got the BP down significantly. Some of the subsequent ups and downs are related to eliminating or adding something, but there's a lot of unrelated variability.

Drastically reducing sodium and increasing potassium had a pretty clear effect, and following Jan 2012 I have continued that.

Calcium was an interesting factor. For me, calcium is extremely constipating, so I was eager to stop taking calcium. But whenever I'd stop taking it, the BP seemed to go up.

It may not be the calcium that's causing this: I realized that whenever I took calcium, I'd increase my fiber intake (with psyllium and flax) as well. So I think there's a good chance that it's the fiber that causing BP to drop rather than (or in conjunction) the calcium. Starting 2/13/13 I restarted the calcium and really increased fiber.

The obvious next experiment is to drop the calcium and keep the fiber, but frankly, I'm tired of taking my BP almost every day, so I'm done for now.

Other conclusions:

Eating large amounts of spinach every single day didn't make a significant difference.

Magnesium may have had an effect, but it wasn't clearcut. For a while I was taking 530 mg per day (120% of the RDA), but I realized it was making me very thirsty at night, and it interfered with my sleep.

"Meditation Lite," that is, deep breathing, learning to clear my mind seems to help. I usually do this while falling asleep, or if I wake in the night. It has helped significantly with sleep.

Note the general peaks in Jan/Feb of each year. One guess on this is that it's due to changes in vitamin D related to sun exposure. Winters are mild here, and my amount of exercise is pretty constant, but I get a lot less sun exposure in the winter. I've upped my vitamin D supplementation.

As I said, it's really hard to get clearcut results, but at least in these experiments I'm dealing with objective numbers (the BP) rather than a subjective evaluation of "How I feel."

So, based on all these experiments, these are the supplements I take every day:

1 Kirkland Mature Multi Multivitamin
1 Radiance Calcium/Magnesium/Zinc:
Ca 333 mg (calcium carbonate and calcium gluconate)
Mg 133 mg (magnesium oxide and magnesium gluconate)
Zn 8 mg (zinc gluconate and zinc citrate)
1 Safeway Vitamin D3 1000 IU
1 Safeway Vitamin c 500 mg
1 NOW Magnesium 200 mg

Every evening I take a low-dose aspirin

I take 1-2 TBS of psyllium husks each day in smoothies

I eat 1/4 to 1/2 cup of flax seed meal each day (in smoothies or flax seed meal bread)

I continue to eat a very low carb diet and exercise a lot.
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Old 04-30-2013, 01:40 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TromboneAl View Post
First, I found that BP experiments are hard, because measurements are so variable (partly due to the monitor), and it may take weeks or months to see the results of a particular treatment.
Wow - - sounds like your treatments may not be the most effective, or maybe your BP is so good that any improvements are extremely minor.

The improvement when my M.D. put me on a beta blocker was so marked that it was extremely noticeable and almost instantaneous, within two days max. Systolic and diastolic both went right down almost 30 points, into the normal range, and they stayed down in that range over the long term as well. My daily resting BP does not vary that much from morning to evening and so on.
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Old 04-30-2013, 01:40 PM   #3
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Very impressive data taking and consideration of the variables, T-Al.
Have you considered that the peaks in winter might be temperature related?
I think a see a general tendency for summer to be lower than winter and there seem to be a lot of googled articles w/ similar thoughts.

Wonder a bit too about the early after rising measurements......my impression is that the body might still be transitioning from night mode to day mode and by taking measurements so early, perhaps you might still be on the warmup curve? Similar to putting something in a furnace and taking the temp before it's fully equilibrated?
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Old 04-30-2013, 01:46 PM   #4
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I'm impressed with your data collection & the discipline involved.

I don't have a BP issue, but find that the light meditation (focus on my breathing) helps me fall asleep very quickly too.

All the best.
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Old 04-30-2013, 03:09 PM   #5
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Very impressive data taking and consideration of the variables, T-Al.
Have you considered that the peaks in winter might be temperature related?
I think a see a general tendency for summer to be lower than winter and there seem to be a lot of googled articles w/ similar thoughts.
Temperature could be a factor in general, but for a while I measured the temperature of the room when I measured BP, and saw no clearcut relationship. The temp at our house doesn't change much between winter and summer.

Quote:
Wonder a bit too about the early after rising measurements......my impression is that the body might still be transitioning from night mode to day mode and by taking measurements so early, perhaps you might still be on the warmup curve?
Right. That, and taking the measurements after sitting only 1.5 minutes could very well increase the variability. That is, I might get more repeatable measurements when in a steady state. But if I waited, then there would be so many other variables involved (when did I eat, when did I exercise, etc.). I would have waited 5 minutes, but I wasn't willing to give up so much time for the measurements.

Quote:
The improvement when my M.D. put me on a beta blocker ... both went right down almost 30 points,
I didn't realize that the changes were so dramatic.

I view it like this: High blood pressure is bad in and of itself, but it is also indicative of an underlying problem. Reducing BP to normal levels with drugs helps, but doesn't reduce the risk of cardiovascular problems to normal levels.

IOW, in part, the drugs treat the symptom of the underlying problem, but not the problem itself.

My hope is that I am restoring the normal conditions that keep BP low.
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Old 04-30-2013, 03:53 PM   #6
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Al, I think I have identified the causative factor in your BP problems. Over the last few weeks I noticed a dramatic drop in BP, which coincides with the time period you decided to give up such close BP monitoring. I bet the BP monitoring itself was causing enough stress and worry that it was driving your BP up.
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Old 04-30-2013, 09:13 PM   #7
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Very nice study. I don't take BP every day, but when I do, I take after having been awake for an hour in the morning and before eating. That method was recommended by the Blood Pressure for Dummies book and has the advantage that there should be less variation. On the other hand, BP is generally lower early in the morning. So, that's a consideration, too.
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Old 04-30-2013, 09:36 PM   #8
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How is your weight? If you are even modestly overweight you might find that weight loss of even 10 lbs or so reduces your blood pressure.
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Old 04-30-2013, 11:35 PM   #9
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My urologist started me on Flomax last week. I am taking 20 mg Lisinopril and checked my blood pressure a few days after starting the Flomax. It was 78/48. Holy crap, this new medicine for other problems made my B/P go south. I cut the Lisinopril in half and I am watching it close now. B/P is something that's hard for me to get right. I was on three different meds earlier this year for B/P but begin to have lows and had to back off two of them. Oldtrig
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Old 05-01-2013, 08:20 AM   #10
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Hey Al, hope you and Lena are doing well. Your scientific method is always so interesting to read. I am anxiously waiting for your update on cholesterol.
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Old 05-01-2013, 01:01 PM   #11
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Congrats Al. This is a very careful self-study, you got good information, and you improved your BP plenty enough to have clinical meaning.

Almost every day new information is released about the importance of K+ for blood pressure and health.

Ha
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Old 05-01-2013, 02:01 PM   #12
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How is your weight? If you are even modestly overweight you might find that weight loss of even 10 lbs or so reduces your blood pressure.
My recollection is that TromboneAl is quite trim so this probably isn't a factor for him.

However, I did want to underscore this for the benefit of others. DH a couple of years ago was taking a couple of blood pressure medications after developing high blood pressure. Well, 2 years later, he has lost 65 pounds. His blood pressure is entirely normal now and he does not have to take any blood pressure medication at all.
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Old 05-01-2013, 05:22 PM   #13
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My recollection is that TromboneAl is quite trim so this probably isn't a factor for him.

However, I did want to underscore this for the benefit of others. DH a couple of years ago was taking a couple of blood pressure medications after developing high blood pressure. Well, 2 years later, he has lost 65 pounds. His blood pressure is entirely normal now and he does not have to take any blood pressure medication at all.
Congratulations to him, and to you for supporting him.

Ha
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Old 05-01-2013, 11:13 PM   #14
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This is a little off topic, but it's a response to something Ha asked me for a year or two ago.

My BP is pretty high, in the 140s/low 90s range, even with some meds. I have been using the Zona+ device (Improve your cardiovascular health with the Zona Plus!) off and on, and seemed to get good results from it. But I was always doing other stuff (changing meds, changing diet, losing weight, etc) at the same time, so I couldn't really say what was effecting the BP.

But this time I was pretty stable with meds, weight, and diet. I started the Zona again a couple of months ago, and my BP has dropped from the previous numbers down to the high 120s/low 80s. So I have to say it works, although I still don't think anyone understands why.

It's not cheap, and it has mixed reviews for other people, but it's given me some pretty amazing results. Not a recommendation, just a report.

Just following up, Ha, since I promised to let you know.
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Old 05-14-2013, 08:28 PM   #15
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How is your weight? If you are even modestly overweight you might find that weight loss of even 10 lbs or so reduces your blood pressure.
I knew this fact, but had forgotten it even though I was concerned that my morning BP readings had started to range up to 123/80, a range that I hadn't experienced before. Although a reading like that is not a problem per se, early morning readings would normally be the lowest of the day and therefore it might become a problem.

So I have just completed losing 10 lbs (from 154 to 144) and now the morning readings are back to their previous typical range around 109/66.

Anyone with a BP problem should consider losing weight even if he/she is not obese.
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Old 10-17-2013, 03:18 PM   #16
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Thank you for this article.
I find that swimming every day for half an hour helps keep my weight down and BP hovering around 110/60 and HR about 55, although my family has a history of high BP with everyone on meds.
I am looking forward to seeing how your diet and exercise continue to affect BP, and wonder if you've also tried the various natural BP reducing supplements, like Ginkgo Biloba and Garlic.
All the best.
JD
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Old 10-17-2013, 07:23 PM   #17
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. Although a reading like that is not a problem per se, early morning readings would normally be the lowest of the day and therefore it might become a problem.

.
I have read just the opposite and my own experience agrees
************************************************** ********
Measuring Your Blood Pressure at Home: A Review of the Research for Adults - Consumer Summary | AHRQ Effective Health Care Program
What is high blood pressure?
Your blood pressure may be different at different times of the day. It is usually higher when you first wake up, after you exercise, or when you are under stress.
************************************************** ***********
However a google search seemed to also have yielded articles that agree w/ you so I am not sure what the truth is
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Old 10-17-2013, 07:32 PM   #18
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I was researching these ergonomic recliners which also have massage features and read somewhere that massage is suppose to reduce your BP too.

Anyone try it? From a massage therapist that is, not a fancy chair (though you would obviously be able to get massaged every day).
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