|2100mg/day in October vs 700mg /day now!|
Almost every day, my upper (systolic) number spiked to 200 and beyond -- into the red zone for stroke risk. These hypertensive events were linked to the timing of my schedule for levodopa pills -- the med I take for Parkinson's disease (PD).
I also was experiencing unpredictable and scarier episodes of hypotension, during which my upper BP number plunged as low as 60... bringing dizziness and risk of falling. When these sudden drops occurred, I'd hang onto furniture and lean against walls as I headed toward the kitchen for relief -- ingesting salt and/or drinking cold water. Luckily, those simple fixes usually worked.
- I was overdosing big time on the levodopa.
- I needed to resume taking blood pressure medication... something I'd resisted vigorously.
He thought we could solve the BP spikes by enhancing levodopa delivery, thereby eliminating those "off" times. We tried a multitude of strategies, including:
- Increasing dosage from one regular pill every four hours (600mg/day) to one extended release four times a day (800mg/day).
- Reducing the interval between pills and increasing the dosage. During that stretch, I was taking 1.5 regular pills every 2.5 hours (about 1400mg/day). Taking a pill every 2.5 hours 24/7 is lots of fun!
- Increasing the interval between pills (two regular pills every three hours) but skipping one pill during sleep time (1400mg/day).
- Going for broke with one regular pill and one extended release pill seven times a day (a whopping 2100mg/day).
Dr. Grill To the Rescue
After reviewing my responses to his extensive questionnaire and checking me out for more than two hours during our appointment, neurologist Dr. Stephen Grill recapped my situation this way:
You definitely have Parkinson's disease but with mild/early stage symptoms. Yet you are taking doses of levodopa typical of late stage/severely disabled patients. I strongly doubt you need nearly as much levodopa as you are taking. Moreover, I think the side effects from the over-dosing can be causing many of your current complaints from the physical (erratic blood pressure, fatigue) to the mental (memory, cognitive decline).He recommended that I start cutting back on the levodopa to 1.5 pills every 4 hours (900mg/day, down from 1400mg/day). After a while, I further reduced the dosage by taking one pill every three hours but skipping one pill during the night (700mg/day).
I was introduced to the other members of my new medical team after the meeting with Dr. Grill. They agreed with his diagnosis.
Here's the excellent news: I haven't experienced a serious BP spike in weeks (as far as I know, since I've stopped obsessively taking my BP every fifteen minutes). In addition, I haven't had one of the scarier BP drops in a long time.
This positive turnaround didn't happen just because I dialed way back on the levodopa. Another component in my improving health was resuming the BP meds -- tomorrow's topic.