The solution to my “high blood”
By Atty. Antonio P. Pekas
Dealing with a persistent high blood pressure is a full time job. Those who are lazy need not apply.
A month ago, a contractor client of mine was talking about his “high blood”. At times his blood pressure (BP) would reach 220 over 120 and it happened about two days before that day we were talking about it. So he went to his doctor in the morning and he was given two catapres tablets (the small ones you put under the tongue). One was used that morning while the other would be for the evening of that day. When early evening came and his BP was not going down, he ignored the second catapres and just went to get drunk. He came to the office a day after where he told me the story, so he did not suffer a stroke or a heart attack.
Well, I am not as intelligent as that guy.
About 10 years ago, I accidentally became aware of my high blood pressure. Me and my family were at the hospital visiting someone. A nurse was there to take the BP of the patient when I asked her to also take mine. Then she quizzically looked at me and asked, “Saan ka nga ma-ul-ulaw?” I said, no. It turned out my blood pressure was 185/110.
Then I vowed to deal with it naturally. I exercised and sweated the next morning and cut my food intake. I went at it in a fanatical way, and in about a month, my weight was down from 80 kilos to 65 kilos, but 60 kilos should be my ideal weight considering my body build. Also, my BP was down to 150/97. And I felt good.
Then we accidentally met my nephew, Dr. Ray Pekas Suanding, and his family at a resort we used to frequent. He told me that the way I reduced my weight was too fast. It might not be good for my health.
Thereafter the pressures of day to day life got hold of me and I forgot all about discipline, regular exercise and maintaining my weight. So I got bloated again and I went back to being 80 kilos.
Along the way, I had been to several doctors. One was a young but well known cardiologist around. He gave me medicines, as I surmised later, a combination of a calcium blocker, an ARB (the medical jargon) and another one. As the doctor bragged, it is so easy to treat high BP. But then the effects on me were very bad. My brain was foggy, had persistent headaches, my legs were getting bloated, and my senses were slowly getting weak. But, indeed, my BP went down to 180/78. I endured the side effects for about a month but the doctor just could not solve the side effects even after I went back to him about three times where he changed some of the meds. So I quit.
Another doctor also prescribed some pills for me which are some of the popular ones you hear from “high blood” people, but these did not work. He even tried combining an ARB and ACE inhibitor pills which, as I have read somewhere, must not be combined as there is the danger of the BP becoming so low. Perhaps it was a desperate effort to get my BP down but it did not work.
I also tried some alternative vines and leaves to drink as tea but also no effect.
Then I was made again aware of my high blood that I don’t really feel when I went for covid vaccination as I related earlier. Even a catapres did not work. As I found out, catapres only lowers my BP in a minimal way when I continue working. It just makes me drowsy. It works better when I stay at home and rest.
Thus, the search was still on for the solution to my high BP.
I started looking back at my history. The only thing that worked was regular exercise and reducing my weight. I started already several weeks ago—but mindful to do it slowly—and , I might add, in a sustainable way. I am already 73 kilos from my usual 80. As to diet, I have been a strict vegetarian the past 45 years and have yet to compromise on that.
Last week, I also visited my friend who is an Ayurveda doctor. Ayurveda is an Indian medical system that emphasizes the balance between the mind, the body and the spirit. It is about 6,000 years old.
When I related my good lab results to him, he gave me some important tips. Eat light at night and dinner must not be later than 7:00 p.m. to give the liver a better time doing its work of detoxifying the body. Protein foods must be in the morning or lunch. And then regarding my stressful life, and sometimes lack of sleep due to work, he told me that my body might be always in an adrenaline rush. He said, he has a medicine to calm that down but it is still in tansit from abroad.
Really? For more than 30 years I had always been facing stressful deadlines, 24/7. Can the body be so used to a “fight or flight” situation that it becomes the normal thing?
The next day I was in City Hall and I dropped by the office of one department head and she also has a persistently high BP. What calmed it down was some pills her psychologist or psychiatrist prescribed. She was told that she was suffering from anxiety. Another guy dropped in and his situation was the same. His cure was regular exercise activities like biking, hiking, etc. These make him forget the cares of the world. I also learned from these guys that so many others are in the same boat. The good news is that many of them, including teenagers, are now visiting the Phil. Mental Health Association offices beside BGH. I once attended a presscon there and when I told them about my doing yoga, they said it is one of the best ways to deal with mental issues or stress. So I should do it, or be in it, in a more serious way.
Society has so evolved and become so stressful that many high BP cases cannot be treated by just prescribing ARBs, ACE inhibitors, calcium blockers (or other blockers), blood thinners, or cholesterol lowering chemicals like statins, etc. That is being too simplistic now.**