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Blood Pressure Spike: Anyone ever have this happen?
Old 09-06-2012, 11:25 PM   #1
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Blood Pressure Spike: Anyone ever have this happen?

I'm in reasonably healthy shape, run on average about 22-23 miles per week, but up to 30, blood pressure almost always in the 115/75-124/82 range, resting heart rate (first thing in the morning) at about 47 +/-2, fasting glucose of 82-86, and total cholesterol at about 185 when it is checked about every 6 months (LDL is on the higher end and HDL could be a bit higher, but not bad, triglycerides are on the low end of normal).

Then, all of a sudden, I have had a spike in my blood pressure...floating around 150-160 systolic and 100-110 diastolic. I usually check it a couple times a week, but have been out of country for a couple weeks, and was feeling a bit strange Monday, so I checked it, and got those numbers. During the day, it crept up as high as 198/125, but floated back down during the night when I woke up for a potty break to 125/80.

I've had spikes before that have gone as high as 150/95 for a couple of days, but nothing ever like this. During previous spikes, I could track back to very salty meals, combined with very high stress periods at work, that could have caused a spike. This time, I've had even higher stress, but can't find anything particularly higher than my normals for sodium in my diet for the past couple weeks.

The spike continued into Tuesday, then Wednesday, so on Weds I finally went to see the doc. All my figures are normal, as shown above, and my electrolytes are well balanced in mid-range. ECG was fine. BP was 160/108 at the doc. He gave me a mild calcium channel blocker and told me to come back in 2 weeks. I've taken it for 3 days now. First thing this morning (Friday) my BP was 113/68. Doc said I could run if systolic was below 150, so I did 3 miles this morning at a very easy pace. At the end, I was 125/82. By the time I got in to the office 3.5 hours later, it was 150/100. In the car on the way to work, the dread seems to wash over me, and it is as though I can feel the BP rising, just by virtue of heading to work. At lunch today, it was 170/115. The pills don't seem to be working their magic yet, and I really don't want to be on meds when I have to get my own insurance.

Anyone ever have this happen? What did you do about it? If you had to go on CCBs, how long until your BP stabilized around normal?

Thanks

R
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Old 09-06-2012, 11:43 PM   #2
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I have early this year a similar scare and adressed it with a few dr apointments, monitoring bp , losing some pounds, keep same activity level (hikes) and work stress. I did drink alot of beet juice first few weeks and now beets are part of my breakfast smoothie.
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Old 09-06-2012, 11:58 PM   #3
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Yes...I have experienced this.

I have been on one blood pressure medicine for several years...Diovan. This medication worked very well for me...until... I had to have oral surgery done June of last year. When I went in to have the IV inserted, my bp was off the charts. My oral surgeon told me he would not do the procedure and I was to go to my PCP immediately.

By the time I got there, my bp was almost normal. I told him what happened and he said it was apparent during times of stress, my bp rose much higher. Therefore, I have to take another bp med...Atenolol. (My meds started working almost immediately.)

I was really confused by all this as I was as calm as I could be/felt fine at the oral surgeon's office; but my body was saying differently.

Hopefully things will smooth out for you. I understand why you don't want to take bp meds...any kind of med for that matter.

I don't like taking them either, but it's better than having a stroke.
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Old 09-07-2012, 09:12 AM   #4
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Try cutting back on the aerobics. I know it sounds counter-intuitive and counter to what everybody says but that's what happened to me. Always had low BP. (They used to ask me if I ever had black-outs). Got heavy into bike riding. Like I to 2 hours per day. BP starts creeping up, hr perpetually elevated, and I felt vaguely "off" too. The RX was for more aerobics and of course drugs. I unilaterally stopped the long term steady state aerobics and started doing interval training. BP back to normal 110-60. Daytime HR mid 50s - low 60s. I have a couple of extra hours to use too.
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Old 09-07-2012, 01:32 PM   #5
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To maintain health, about all you can do is eat right and exercise. Since you are doing the exercise thing right (if somewhat excessively), focus on nutrition. I'm not sure what the "low end of normal" for triglycerides is, but you should be able to get your HDL level and your triglyceride level to about the same number. If you are eating a typical 'athletes' diet with carb-loading binges, you have found your problem. While young athletes can get away with this for years, older people need to be more careful. For a different view of athletic nutrition take a look at The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance: Jeff S. Volek,Stephen D. Phinney: 9780983490715: Amazon.com: Books

Your basic issue is likely excessive omega 6 PUFA consumption. You should avoid them as much as possible, while increasing your omega 3 PUFAs. This means you should eat essentially no "healthy" whole grains, while eating as much cold-water fish and sea food as you can. It will take a couple of years to get your cellular infrastructure set right; however, your blood pressure should stabilize within a couple of months.

good luck.
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Old 09-07-2012, 01:52 PM   #6
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Sorry to hear about your bp issues Rambler.

I found that my systolic readings were regularly in the 140's in the 2 months prior to ER, which was very strange as I was feeling more stressed out in that final few weeks than almost at any other time I'd been working.

When I retired it came back down to normal. I would follow your Doc's advice, and you never know, it may settle down again to where you can do without meds.
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Old 09-07-2012, 02:55 PM   #7
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I'm also a runner (and cyclist and swimmer), and like you had a stretch where my BP was higher. My normal is 115/75, but I had a period of time when it was 140-145/90-100. I wasn't heavy, but I did cut my calorie intake a bit and lost 7 pounds.
At the same time, I started eating a small bunch of seedless red and black grapes every afternoon. Could be just anecdotal and coincidence, but my BP went back to my normal range. Give the grapes a try - it can't hurt.
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Old 09-07-2012, 04:20 PM   #8
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A higher than normal blood pressure in one who exercises can be a sign of over training. You might google over training to see if any of the other symptoms fit.
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Old 09-07-2012, 10:25 PM   #9
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Thanks all for the replies. I see myself in some of the comments and replies.

A couple of notes: while my recent average for runs is 22-23 miles per week, that is up a little from say 19-20/week about 4 months ago. As the past couple of weeks were very stressful, and as I tend to run more when I am stressed, I clocked about 29-30 each of the past two weeks. Normally I try to make sure that I take at least two days off from running per week, and preferably 3. I like to go for an easy ride on off-days for running. When I am traveling I don't usually have that option.

Another point, also discovered from the suggested Google searches on overtraining and elevated BP: during the 12 days prior to my discovery of the BP spike, I flew all the way around the world, spending 26-28 sleepless hours traveling door-to-door three times on my way to the various destinations. My searches indicated that overtraining combined with air travel and jet-lag are/can be contributing factors, as can be lack of sleep. As for the lack of sleep, the stress and the flights contributed to that.

I need to look a little more into the omega 6 PUFAs, but I'm not a heavy grain eater to begin with. I don't eat much bread except when I go to Europe where I usually over-do it (guess where my first stop was...), and oatmeal/oat bran mix is once or twice a week, but only when home, not on the road. I'm not really a carb-loader, except when I know I'm going to do a 10 miler the next day, but I can say that during my travels I do tend to eat more carbs and pasta than when at home...so this could be a factor. I do not like fish, so I take 3 1000mg fish oil caps per day...two in the morning, one in the afternoon, and have done this for 6+ years.

Today, Saturday, so far the BP is pretty much staying in the 130/90 range. Since it is saturday, I am not at work. Perhaps this has something to do with it. We had a storm this morning, so I did not run. Maybe the rest is helping. It is also the 4th day of meds...

So, it looks like what I will try is to ratchet back the runs a little, maybe to 16 miles/week. Add another couple hours of walking or an hour of easy spinning/riding to keep the activity up, but at a reduced intensity. I think I will keep calorie consumption at about the same level for a bit. Most of the google results actually advocate adding a bit, but I don't think I need any more (I'm a bit heavy to begin with). I'll swap in some more grapes for my fruit/carb intake, and in a couple weeks will consider some calorie reduction. And of course, I'll stick with the meds and follow-up prescribed by the doc. Once it normalizes, maybe he'll let me try to ease off of them and see what happens.

Any other ideas will be most welcome and appreciated.

R
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Old 09-08-2012, 06:37 AM   #10
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1. Learn to sleep / force yourself to sleep on long flights.

2. Stop traveling and get a calm, docile dog. Walk dog everyday.

3. Lay off the Viagra.
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Old 09-09-2012, 06:38 AM   #11
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Another thing: Perhaps you have kidney stone(s), but they have not caused any pain yet because it hasn't blocked any urine flow. Maybe it restricts flow from kidney to bladder occassionally by a little bit?
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Old 09-10-2012, 08:23 PM   #12
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I've been watching an incredible US Open tennis final for 5 hours with Andy Murray, up 2 sets then losing 2 sets and finally winning. The first Brit to win a Grand Slam in 76 years. (He may well be the first Scot ever to win one).

I wondered how the stress was affecting me so I took my bp. 159/89

My heart rate was only 60 bpm, confirming that a slow heart rate has no relationship to bp.
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Old 09-11-2012, 08:26 AM   #13
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Interesting stuff Alan. I've been on the meds a week, and until today, the bp remained high. The difference? I've been away from the office and have had less of the stress to deal with...I was even stressing at the weekend. I'm traveling again, and while sometimes what I have to deal with during my travels is stressful, this particular trip has not yet been so. We'll see if it continues to improve, and what happens next week back at the office.

LOL, we will get a dog when we return to the US...no dogs allowed in our apartment complex in Japan...and, I'm quite fine without any enhancements from little blue pills.

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Old 09-11-2012, 08:51 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Rambler View Post
Interesting stuff Alan. I've been on the meds a week, and until today, the bp remained high. The difference? I've been away from the office and have had less of the stress to deal with...I was even stressing at the weekend. I'm traveling again, and while sometimes what I have to deal with during my travels is stressful, this particular trip has not yet been so. We'll see if it continues to improve, and what happens next week back at the office.
I took my bp last night before I went to bed and it was back to normal. I hate to think what it would have been if I'd actually played rather than just watched. There was a study done on soccer managers in the English Premier League a couple of years ago when several of them consented to doctors monitoring their vitals during games. Their very high bp and heart rates indicated clearly how much the stress was affecting them and why so many had had heart issues over the previous few seasons.

The month before I quit work I inhaled some fumes at a tank car loading station while doing a safety study I had to go to medical for the mandatory check-up. This was the first time ever after 35 years in the industry, so I wasn't surprised when my systolic bp was 160 even though I was perfectly fine. (the effect of the whiff of chemicals was just like that of ammonia from a bottle of smelling salts, with a sudden reaction then perfectly normal).

Kick back and relax when you can, and good luck
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Old 09-11-2012, 11:22 AM   #15
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BP is one of those numbers that jumps around a lot. If you find it elevated consistently over a week I'd see the doctor. I know that when I see the doctor my BP will be 150/90 or higher because I hate doctors. I'm normally around 120/75 but after a long bike ride I can drop to 110/65 and stay there for a few hours.
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Old 09-11-2012, 12:53 PM   #16
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BP is one of those numbers that jumps around a lot. If you find it elevated consistently over a week I'd see the doctor. I know that when I see the doctor my BP will be 150/90 or higher because I hate doctors. I'm normally around 120/75 but after a long bike ride I can drop to 110/65 and stay there for a few hours.
I remember being astounded at how high my BP went during the first treadmill stress test I took at age 40, but the Doc said that was normal. (I did the test because I was 40 and the company Doc likes to do a stress test on folks at age 40 during their annual physical).

When I did my last stress test at age 54 just before I ER'ed I didn't even bother looking at the BP readings.

These days I take my BP occasionally just to check it is not creeping up on me. It's not known as "the silent killer" for nothing.
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Old 09-11-2012, 06:07 PM   #17
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During a stress test and other exercise, I think it is normal for systolic BP to go to 200

See for example the first figure in this article: Systolic Blood Pressure Response to Exercise Stress Test and Risk of Stroke
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Old 09-11-2012, 06:41 PM   #18
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During a stress test and other exercise, I think it is normal for systolic BP to go to 200

See for example the first figure in this article: Systolic Blood Pressure Response to Exercise Stress Test and Risk of Stroke
I believe it
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Old 09-14-2012, 12:52 PM   #19
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Rambler,

In reading this latest report on the affect of work stress on health, it likes it only increases the risks of heart attacks by a small amount, provided you are a non-smoker and exercise regularly.

It sounds like you are doing all the right things to balance the added stress caused by your work.

BBC News - Work stress 'raises heart risk'

Quote:
Though stresses at work may be unavoidable, how you deal with these pressures is important, and lighting up a cigarette is bad news for your heart. Eating a balanced diet, taking regular exercise and quitting smoking will more than offset any risk associated with your job.
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