October 22, 2013

Blood Pressure Log: Key Tool in My Health Management

Yesterday I wrote about my summer "sinking spells," which my recent research shows were caused by PD-related orthostatic hypotension (low blood pressure). I'm convinced I discovered that reason only because I've kept careful blood pressure records.

What's my BP log look like? Here's the entry for this past Sunday. It's interesting to me, and probably more confusing than usual:

(Please excuse the small, cramped handwriting (micrographia), a PD attribute.)

I take my Parkinson’s pills (carbidopa/levadopa) four times a day, at about six hour intervals. The log shows I did a good job hitting those intervals, popping my pills at 4am, 10am, 4pm, and 10pm.

At bedtime, I also take my new blood pressure med -- 300mg of irbesartan (Avapro) – and my new cholesterol med – 10mg of pravastan.

I also take the OTC supplement 5-HTP at bedtime. This serotonin booster helps me deal with the depression, insomnia and constipation that frequently accompany PD. But too much of this “miracle drug” can cause blood pressure spikes, so I'm more careful now. It was those 5-HTP spikes that prompted me to begin keeping the BP log. 

Observations on Today’s Log
Reviewing entries for the past months, I see wildly erratic numbers that I now realize are attributable to PD-related orthostatic hypotension. I bet there'd be correlations between really low BP and really high heat and humidity. Maybe next summer I'll start making weather entries, too.

But for the past week, the upper readings stabilized between 125 to 155.

So what caused the high numbers on Sunday? Saturday night I took a full 50mg of 5-HTP, not the usual half pill. I also added half a 1mg tablet of Azilect, a common PD med. For me, the jury is still out on Azilect's ability to enhance the effectiveness of carbidopa/levadopa. My neurologist originally prescribed 1 mg of Azilect but then OK'd my suggestion that  I try cutting it in half and my later suggested experiment               of doing without (as part of my "less is more" campaign to keep my pill intake to the minimum).  But he encouraged me to experiment on whether Azilect helps.

I suspect these two bedtime additions caused the high numbers shown on the log. But I'll test that out over the next few days.  I'll also make an appointment to see my internist who should be back from her maternity leave.

You may well wonder . . . .

"Aren’t You Being Obsessive-Compulsive About All This?"
A shrink would probably pin the OCD label on me. OK, maybe I'm obsessive about my health these days. Isn't that better than obsessing about nicotine, alcohol and sex . . . the addictions from my younger days?

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