extremely high BP out of the blue

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Hi, I'm a 35-year-old active male.  I'm 140lbs and 5'9".  While I've traditionally eaten a lot of sodium and sweets, my diet has only gotten healthier over the last year or two.  I have never had blood pressure problems in my life, and neither of my parents has high blood pressure (though one died from a cerebral hemorrhage in a part of the brain normally attributed to high blood pressure).  But my grandmother on my mother's side has longstanding high blood pressure, sometimes with really high readings, and is medicated.  She also claims to have "white coat hypertension".

About six months ago my doctor noticed that my blood pressure was periodically a tad high.  So, he had me take it at home for a month and come back with the numbers.  They were pretty normal, so he didn't worry.  Then my dad died unexpectedly from a cerebral hemorrhage, and he wanted to play it safe, and had me do it again.  At first, the numbers were unremarkable -- 135/90, say.  But within a couple of days they got very high -- 157/109, 160/110, 180/94, 144/120, etc.  I went back to my doctor who thought I had developed an extreme form of white coat hypertension, or, anyway, fear of taking my blood pressure.  So, he had me do a 24-hour test.  Lo and behold, the numbers were consistently very high -- as high as 206 on the top and 126 on the bottom.  He concluded that I really do have hypertension, albeit sudden and extreme onset, and that it is likely secondary.  So, he is scheduling me to get an MRI to test for renal stenosis and pheochromocytoma.  He also put me on Bystolic 10mg, and, since taking it, my blood pressure was 141/101 when I tested it.  He wants to try other blood pressure medications too, but says that they will interfere with the MRI, so is holding off.

My questions are as follows. 

First, do any of you have stories like this?  Could this just be "primary" hypertension?  My grandmother suggested that her story is much like mine.  But I find that hard to believe.

Second, could stress be responsible for numbers like these?  I am under a lot of stress.  My dad only died about 3 months ago, and it was unexpected.  I am also under a pressing deadline on a major project at the end of February.  I have always been a very anxious person, but this has never appeared to affect my blood pressure.

Third, given how high my numbers are, is it safe for me to be out and about, living my life?  I have been getting headaches, but I can't tell if they're stress/anxiety related instead.  I have refrained from exercise since the numbers started being at ER levels (despite the doctor's earlier suggestion to exercise as normal).  

Any other thoughts or suggestions?

Thanks, in advance!


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  • Posted

    P.S.  One other thing: the 24 hour test was not subtle.  There was no doubt when it was taking my blood pressure.  Indeed, I think it woke me up every time it took my blood pressure through the night.  Could fear of getting my blood pressure taken have led to spikes for all the 50 or 100 times it took it? 

    Thanks again.

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  • Posted

    Do you have any means of reducing your stress? Some mental means of focusing more on something relaxing before and during your BP testing?

    Meditation/ thought association/ prayer/ concentration exercises/ yoga/ etc?


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  • Posted

    Maybe this is secondary so the MRI is a good idea but try to find ways of reducing stress and eliminating the salt shaker and processed foods. Good luck.
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  • Posted

    Thanks, all.  They did and MRA with contrast and took some MRI pictures too, and said that my adrenal gland looks normal, and ruled out renal stonosis.  My blood pressure has been pretty steady since (in the evening, when I check it, at least) at 140/100.  Any other thoughts/suggestions?  Thanks again!
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