Many fibromyalgia patients suffer from high blood pressure.  Sometimes it’s the pain that causes the high blood pressure and sometimes it’s the various medications that cause it.  Another common reason for elevated high blood pressure, being overweight. A number of patients are taking medications that lower their metabolism. Others have a poorly functioning thyroid, both lead to weight gain.

No matter the cause, however, the dangers are the same.  Chronic high blood pressure is a high-risk condition that should be addressed immediately, especially in those with chronic conditions like fibromyalgia, who are taking multiple drugs that could elevate BP or counteract with any other supplement or medication to control BP.

Hypertension (the medical term for high blood pressure) can be “quiet” over many years, damaging your body in the process. Left untreated, hypertension can lead to a major disability and even a fatal heart attack. 

Let’s take a quick look at what blood pressure actually is before getting too detailed about its dangers.  BP is the pressure of blood in the arteries that’s pumped from the heart.  It’s measured with two numbers, systolic and diastolic.  Systolic, the top higher number of your reading, is the pressure when the heart contracts or pumps.  Diastolic, the lower bottom number of the reading, is the pressure in the arteries when the heart is at rest in between beats.  Normal levels are considered to be less than 120/80 mmHg.  Anything higher than that number on a consistent basis puts you at risk of hypertension.

Arteries are usually flexible and elastic, with smooth inner linings so the blood can flow easily.  The blood is moved via the arteries all over the body, supplying all the organs with the oxygen and nutrient-rich blood.  Constant high pressure in the arteries can destroy that strength and elasticity of the artery lining and cause narrowing, constriction, damage, and aneurysm (a large bulge in the artery that will eventually rupture and cause life-threatening bleeding).

Atherosclerosis disease - plague blocking blood flowConstant high blood pressure will thicken the arterial walls, make them stiff, and cause arteriosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries.

This kind of damage is a snowball effect because hypertension is not just caused by medications, but by poor diet, low activity levels, and chronic pain.  Pain increases the blood pressure because it puts you in a state of stress, in which the heart pumps more rapidly.  This type of arterial damage can cause a number of problems like chest pain, stroke, heart failure, heart attack, eye damage, aneurysm and death.

High blood pressure puts you not just at cardiovascular risk, but could damage all other vital organs and functions as well, since blood supplies the life to everything.  I’ve mentioned above what it can do to your heart.  To your brain, it can cause an transient ischemic attack, or a mini stroke, which is a brief disruption of blood supply to the brain.  This is usually a warning that you are on your way to a full-blown stroke.  A TIA is caused by a clot, or atherosclerosis (a collection of fats from your diet that form clots in the arteries).  You can also develop a full-blown stroke, dementia, and cognitive impairment as a result of various levels of disrupted blood supply to the brain.

To your kidneys, when they don’t get proper blood supply, they can’t excrete the fluid and waste from the blood properly.  Therefore, there is potential for some kind of nephropathy (kidney disease) to occur such as kidney scarring, kidney failure, and kidney artery aneurysm.  All of these are highly dangerous and potentially fatal.

Additionally, hypertension can affect the eyes, bones, sexual function, and sleep, so there are multi-dimensional issues associated with uncontrolled hypertension that need to be addressed immediately. 

Blood pressure is very easy to monitor.  You can purchase a device for home or check it weekly at your local pharmacy or drug store.  Keep a diary of your readings and if you are consistently high at various times of day under various levels of stress, then talk to your doctor about what is causing the hypertension.

Don’t let them just prescribe you another medication, especially if you are already taking several for a current medical condition!

iStock_000002254868XSmallIt is highly likely that, if you are taking several different kinds of medication, your hypertension is being caused by those rather than anything else. Mobic and other non-steroidal anti- inflammatory meds (NSAIDS), can cause high blood pressure, so can Ritalin, Wellbutren, Effexor, Cymbalta, Savella, and other antidepressants.

To start, make sure that you are on a healthy diet of reduced fat and processed foods.  A diet rich in grains, lean meats, and fresh fruits and vegetables is going to be vital to lower blood pressure.  With daily exercise, this alone may cure your hypertension.  If it doesn’t, however, you will need some sort of intervention to avoid long-term ramifications.

Finding and fixing a low thyroid condition could be the answer. Losing weight, my patients typically lose one half to a pound a day on my anti-inflammatory weight loss diet. My patients who need to lose weight, typically lose 20,30 40, or more pounds and best of all reset their metabolism so that the weight they lose never returns.

Losing weight, even 10 pounds can have a dramatic positive effect on your blood pressure!

Taking a good high dose multivitamin/mineral supplement, like the CFS/Fibro Formula will often reduce high blood pressure, so will increasing your magnesium intake. I recommend my fibro patients take 500-800mg of magnesium a day. Magnesium is a natural muscle relaxant.


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