Friday, April 20, 2007

Hypertension 47: More Whining

Yes, I have not posted very much in the last while about Hypertension. Put up some poems, yep. But mostly, been mulling it all over. About, mostly, repeating myself.

It's easy to get sick and tired about side effects, because that is mostly what they do for you: make you sick and tired.

The studies I'm aware of show that by taking the powerful prescription medications I am taking, I increase my chances of avoiding a heart attack or stroke by about 5%. That is not much to begin with, and even less when placed in context: 82% of unmedicated people with my level of high blood pressure will not have a stroke or heart attack in the next ten years (maybe it's only five year, but in this society it'll seem like ten), while 87% of medicated people won't suffer those effects.

The odds are truly excellent I won't suffer anything really bad in the next ten years to begin with--yet, ironically, I seem to be increasing my odds of suffering bad stuff from taking the medications.

I have made another appointment next week with the WMD. I am also waiting to hear from the third specialist about an appointment.

When I started the prescription medications last fall, I weighed around 214 or so. It fluctuated, yes, but it was under 220. Today I weigh 230. I still exercise regularly (although it is hard to do it every other day while I work full time), I still watch what I eat, but I've gained 15 pounds, and have definitely moved into the obese category.

Why? My understanding is that it is two factors: the medications lower my metabolic rate so I burn less calories off, while at the same time I tend to eat more to give me some energy because the same medications make me feel so tired.

I'm 61, but these days feel more like 71 or 81. If I stand for an hour, my legs begin to ache and I get tired. My wife worries that this may also be due to decreased circulation to my legs. Two hours on my feet, shopping or doing anything else, and I'm pretty tired and cranky.

I went to a stress workshop on Thursday. It was an all day affair. A good workshop, interesting points about stress in the workplace. But just sitting there and concentrating and participating all day long left me wobbling and struggling to stay awake in the last hour.

Is this worth the 5% improvement? Is it worth bringing my blood pressure under 140 almost all the time?

It's that ol' quality of life issue. It takes a while to realize what happens with these medications. Or perhaps it is the cumulative impact of taking them every day. I don't know. It's hard to find a doctor to explain it to me.

But it is now becoming an issue of whether the weight gain is more damaging than staying off the pills. Being obese also increases the risk of heart attack and stroke, along with other serious medical conditions. At what point do I pass the point of no return? At what point does it make more sense to give up the prescription medications and take my chances, lowering my weight?

Try looking for an answer on this one through Google or Wikipedia. Good luck, mates!!

Why, when so many people suffer the same situation, are there so few answers?

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