High Blood Pressure Help


My background: I am 51 and have had high blood pressure since age 29. My untreated BP is 220/120. I wasn't always great at moderating my sodium intake and was 25 pounds heavier for many years (BMI 27 then, 22 now). I have always eaten a fairly balanced diet, exercised regularly and practiced yoga. For the last 15 months I have followed a vegan/80%+ whole foods diet. I dropped 25 pounds and found my sodium intake decreased from an average of 3500+ mg per day to an average of 2400mg/day.

My question: Anyone with similarly resistant hypertension had any success decreasing blood pressure with cutting sodium intake further? I find it very difficult to reduce my sodium intake below 2400mg and am not sure it would even help (my doctor doesn't think it would do much either). I would love to not have to take medication, would love to hear other people's experiences (successful or not!)

Disclaimer: Yes, I know MFP is not my doctor. I know to follow her advice. I know my body is different than everyone else's. I'm just curious what other people have experienced.


  • deannalfisher
    deannalfisher Posts: 5,600 Member
    sometimes blood pressure is just genetic - i know mine specifically is tied to my thyroid - i reduced sodium, lost weight - it did nothing
  • apullum
    apullum Posts: 4,838 Member
    It sounds like you are already doing a lot of the things recommended to treat high blood pressure. If you've been doing those things consistently without seeing your numbers change, that is probably why your doctor doesn't think that restricting sodium further would help.

    Have you been checked for other underlying conditions that could cause your high blood pressure? I'm assuming you have, since this is a long-term issue for you, but it's worth asking your doctor about potential underlying causes since that number is VERY high and you do not sound like you have ever had the major risk factors for high blood pressure. Thyroid problems, for example, are among the things that can cause high blood pressure.
  • 13bbird13
    13bbird13 Posts: 425 Member
    edited January 2020
    I never had any luck with reducing BP by losing weight or cutting sodium, unfortunately. Mine's hereditary as well.
  • TracyNew75
    TracyNew75 Posts: 50 Member
    I have high blood pressure, am at a normal bmi, and I have taken drastic measures to cut sodium in the past with absolutely no luck.

    Currently I am on a low dose of Atenolol with no side effects really for me ( I could not take lisinopril because it made me extremely sleepy). My blood pressure is completely normal while taking this medication.

    Please get on some medication for your high blood pressure. Untreated high blood pressure leads to kidney damage. This is a proven fact that your Dr should be telling you actually.
  • Have_Mercy
    Have_Mercy Posts: 11 Member
    I am in a similar situation. I am 53 years old and have had high bp since my mid 20's. I have tried nearly everything.....proper diet with exercising, meds.....nothing drops my bp to where it should be. The meds lower it a tad but it's still pretty high. Last time I had it checked at the Doctor's office it was 190 over 88, and that's on my meds. Here's the funny thing, about 8 years ago I started taking anabolic steroids. The only real bad side effect to this particular steroid was that it could raise my bp. So I closely monitored my bp while taking this. The entire time I was using this steroid, my bp was 120/80. Only time in my life since I started monitoring that my bp was normal. Unfortunately, steroids are illegal and I no longer have a way to get it. So frustrating. Good luck with yours.
  • macybean
    macybean Posts: 258 Member
    Thanks for all the replies! I do take medication now and keep it controlled, just wanted to see if others had success with drastic reductions of sodium. I really want to continue liking the food I eat! I have had several full workups over the years (and my thyroid is pretty much decorative, so on thryoid meds too). When my BP first shot up doctors were convinced there was an underlying problem, but none has ever been found (including rare things like pheochromocytoma). I guess I just need to stop looking at having to take meds as a failure of my efforts...

    Again thanks for the thoughtful replies!
  • JennJ323
    JennJ323 Posts: 646 Member
    I am also on high bp meds.. I've lost 30lb (currently 5'2 125lb), am always under my sodium goal, work out and nothing helps my bp besides medication, unfortunately. Sometimes it's just genetics.
  • liftingbro
    liftingbro Posts: 2,029 Member
    edited January 2020
    Back when I started losing weight (250lbs @ 5'6") my BP was 140/95, now I'm down 118/75.

    That was losing 70lbs and going from no exercise to 5 days a week and eating better.

    From what my Dr. says that some people respond to diet and exercise better than others do. Some will always have high BP regardless unless medicated.

    My wife is @ 160/100 or so all the time no matter what she does unless she's on meds.

    I would really recommend taking your Dr. advise if they say you need BP meds. 220/120 is high risk for cardiac issues.

    I guess there's some sort of calculation they can do to determine risk for heart attack. Mine now is down to 1.5% in the next 10 years. I believe previously it was more like 30% and I'm 42.
  • xSanoura
    xSanoura Posts: 40 Member
    Hello, I’m a nurse on a cardiac unit. :) while I definitely recommend talking to your doctor about any concerns, I have some tips.
    Yes cut out as much sodium and hydrate, but remember to exercise. The best exercise is to go for a walk and have a stressball in your hands to squeeze. How is your environment? Stress can cause your BP to rise as well.
    These are tips I give to my patients, but please consult your doctor because constant high BP is not good. They can help adjust your meds or see if there are any underlying problems.

    Good luck !
  • xSanoura
    xSanoura Posts: 40 Member
    edited January 2020
    Also yes, high BP can be genetic, However your top number should never be left alone at 200+!! You run the risk of damage of stroke, and other side effects. If your BP doesn’t come down from the 200s, you NEED medical attention.
  • kshama2001
    kshama2001 Posts: 27,988 Member
    macybean wrote: »
    Thanks for all the replies! I do take medication now and keep it controlled, just wanted to see if others had success with drastic reductions of sodium. I really want to continue liking the food I eat! I have had several full workups over the years (and my thyroid is pretty much decorative, so on thryoid meds too). When my BP first shot up doctors were convinced there was an underlying problem, but none has ever been found (including rare things like pheochromocytoma). I guess I just need to stop looking at having to take meds as a failure of my efforts...

    Again thanks for the thoughtful replies!

    Do you take your BP at home? We had a recent thread where many posters mentioned "white coat syndrome" - falsely elevated BP in the presence of medical personnel. Do you get tested at the beginning of your visit or the end? Mine is generally a little high at the beginning because I'm always rushing to get there on time and stressing about being late.
  • Luke_rabbit
    Luke_rabbit Posts: 1,031 Member
    Your doctor must love how hard you have tried. I know ours is always impressed that we follow their recommendations.

    On the meds you are taking is your BP normal (or close) and you have no serious side effects?

    If yes, then just be thrilled that you have a solution and keep taking such good care of yourself.

    BTW, reading comprehension, huh? 😁
  • MadisonMolly2017
    MadisonMolly2017 Posts: 11,112 Member
    US recommends 2300 mg max for adults under 50, and under 1500mg for folks over 50 years old.

    When you say you can’t reduce sodium further, why is that?

    Recently I went up to 2300-2400 mg from 1500-1700mg & my bp shot up from low-normal to Hypertension Stage 1.

    I found it hard to decrease sodium after the holidays until I saw this outcome. For the past week I’ve averaged 1,200mg a day & bp is back to normal.

    Might be worth a try.

    Chronic Kidney Disease has no cure, sadly. Just treatments.
  • Fflpnari
    Fflpnari Posts: 975 Member
    Your body actually needs sodium, so be careful going too low. If you eat right, exercise and still have High bp, you still need medication.
  • macybean
    macybean Posts: 258 Member
    @apullum I know you're right, but the reminder is always good!

    @liftingbro I do take medication. I think I'd be dead by now if I didn't!! I love the results of your heart attack risk assessment. Nice work!

    @kshama2001 Yes, I check my BP at home. Good point though!

    @bold_rabbit Thank you! My doctor does seem appreciative! And you're right, I should be grateful that I can treat it and live a normal life.

    @MadisonMolly2017 I find it difficult to reduce further as my food tastes bland and it limits my ability to eat out and use the few convenience foods I do use. It's also hard to find the motivation to cut intake further when you see no results. I cut my intake by 1000+ mg a day and yet had no reduction in my need for medication.

    And just to recap, I AM taking medication and keeping my BP controlled. I know the risks of high blood pressure and don't want to risk my brain, kidneys or heart health!

    Thanks again to everyone who replied!
  • Sunshine_And_Sand
    Sunshine_And_Sand Posts: 1,320 Member
    I wwas 20 when my BP started going up. Until it starting shooting up, it was consistently 100/50, until it wasn’t and shot up to 160/105 at rest. At that point, I wasn’t overweight and was at the gym doing high intensity aerobics 5-6 classes per week. I remember being at a class and struggling for the first time ever and thinking, “wow, I’m out of shape. I need to come workout more”. A few weeks later, something completely unrelated got me to the doctor, and the vital sign check revealed the hypertension. I had a series of tests and home BP checks over a few weeks, and it stayed up. None of the blood work was abnormal, so no explanation for the sudden hypertension. Same thing happened to my Dad when he was 23 and had a highly active outside job so probably in even better shape than I was when I got diagnosed. I initially tried deeply cutting sodium which meant giving up most of the foods I liked, but when I’d try getting off the meds (with doctor monitoring, never try it without the doctor approval), the numbers would creep back up.
    Sometimes is just genetic. Some people are able to be off meds for a while but if it’s primary hypertension (not caused by something else) most people are eventually going to have to be back on meds.
    I’ve tried multiple times over the years to get off the meds. It works for a few months then creeps back up, and then I have to restart them and go through the adjusting to the side effects all over again. I decided a long time ago that it’s not worth it to me, and I just stay on my dose of whatever med I’m taking at the time. I’ve always been on the lowest dose possible.
    I taught multiple aerobics classes in college and had a resting heart rate in the 60s while on BP meds. It’s not a death sentence and can be managed if you mind your doctor. If your doctor ever says you can try get off the meds, just be sure you are monitoring it at home so you can see if/when the numbers go back up. Weight loss does work for some, but you won’t know that until you’ve tried it. If it doesn’t work, then at least you are still healthier and fitter, even if you do have to take a pill everyday.
  • Jthanmyfitnesspal
    Jthanmyfitnesspal Posts: 3,522 Member
    @macybean : it appears you are doing everything right!

    @apullum : totally right that having to take BP meds is not a failure. We are lucky they exist. Just take them.

    I have marginally high BP at a level pretty common for someone around 60yrs. It is affected by my body weight and level of exercise, which is nice. Despite the press saying that you should go on meds the moment your BP goes over 120/80 (whereas I see +10 in sys/dia pretty commonly), my doc doesn't go for it, and just tells me to do the other healthy things, like eat well, exercise, limit alcohol, and not smoke (not that I would). BP is just one of the risk factors that affect your outcome, thankfully.

    @Fflpnari also makes a good point. If you sweat it out regularly, you don't want to go too low on the sodium. I've hit that point a few times (feeling light-headed during exercise) and treated it by take electrolytes before or after a run, for example. (Heresy for people with high BP!)