Thursday, October 11, 2012

Blood Pressure - Still High Despite Getting off Savella

As you may or may not recall, the earlier part of my year has been tarnished with an unnecessary spike in blood pressure that could have been prevented by my former Fibromyalgia doctor.  Here's the post describing the worst of it.  Once I realized the cause of the blood pressure spike - two medications that should not have been taken together - I promptly got off both drugs, expecting my blood pressure to return to normal soonafter.

Unfortunately, months after getting off the drugs, my blood pressure still remains elevated, as I discovered during a check-up yesterday morning.  All my life, my blood pressure levels have been normal until January and February of 2012.  Now it seems something from that episode was changed in my body that cannot so easily be reversed.  After all, I've made several additional changes in my life to be healthier, starting in March or so when I adopted the habit of eating a healthy Whole Foods salad on workdays, and continuing through June when I started attending weekly yoga classes.  This blood pressure thing makes no sense to me. 

The doctor I saw yesterday was my gynecologist, and when she saw the elevated blood pressure reading taken by the nurse, she measured it herself, and got a slightly higher reading than the first one.  She wanted to make sure, so she also measured it again at the end of my exam.  I was calm and relaxed and she witnessed it.  The third reading was the highest, just as when I went to my primary doctor for the blood pressure spike earlier this year.  I hypothesized that taking blood pressure seems to raise it, but nobody confirmed that for me.  My final reading yesterday was something like 146/97, I believe.  She decided she ordered me to stop taking my current birth control pills (Seasonique/Amethia) immediately, since they contain estrogen, and apparently estrogen can contribute to high blood pressure.  This is news to me.  I was also somewhat surprised at the order, since I'd been taking these pills for many, many years now, when my blood pressure was fine.  Perhaps there's a cumulative effect or something else I'm not understanding. 

At any rate, she switched me to a progesterone-only pill while I mull over all of my options and my needs.  What I liked about my previous pills was the ability to minimize periods and their awful symptoms (for me), and being able to predict and schedule around periods.  With the progesterone-only pills (Micronor/Jovilette), I'm back to having less predictable periods and more of them.  I'm also considering Mirena, which my doctor suggested.  There are still some unknowns about whether it's the right choice for me, but I'm still researching that. 

Hopefully, getting off the estrogen will reduce my blood pressure.  I strive to be healthier, but seeing my blood pressure remain elevated through these healthier habit months is a bit frustrating.  I will read up on all the factors that can contribute to high blood pressure and see if I can change any other things for the better.  I do know there is a hereditary component, and my parents deal with hypertension. Plus I'll be 40 years old in a couple months, and age is also a factor.  This old body's not getting any younger, but I only get the one, so I'll do my best to take good care of it.