When my doctor told me that my blood pressure was elevated, it came as quite a surprise. My numbers had always been good, so when the doctor told me it was 140/90, I knew something was way off. That was about 20 points higher on both the diastolic and systolic readings than normal.
I began monitoring it daily as it continued to creep up, all the way to 159/106, which was way too high. I was understandably worried as to why it was going up. I reassessed all my activities and current medications, trying to come up with a strategy to deal with it, rather than immediately resorting to taking blood pressure medication. Medication has always been the last resort for me to deal with health issues. I know several people who started on BP meds along the way, are now taking two BP meds, and who still have high blood pressure. I wanted to avoid that route, if at all possible.
As you may already know, prolonged high blood pressure can lead to serious health problems, such as stroke, heart attack, heart failure or kidney failure. The sneaky thing is that high blood pressure is silently doing its damage with few warning signs. High blood pressure damages the arteries, in turn, seriously restricting blood flow to all major organs.
I reassessed my medications which is one long-term prescription, along with multivitamins, and an occasional dose of ibuprofen for arthritis. I couldn’t think of anything that was the culprit. I then looked at my emotional and physical state. Aside from the usual ups and downs of life, there were no major issues going on. I was in decent shape physically, even though I had needed to drop a few pounds for several years. I looked at my salt intake and it was moderate.
So, what was the culprit for my blood pressure’s sudden increase? There was one thing I had initially overlooked. I had started using a progesterone cream about five months prior to my blood pressure increase. It was a simple over-the-counter cream made from wild yams. It came from a reputable health food store and the store owner said they have hundreds of customers who have used it successfully for many years. It is sold as a mild hormone replacement therapy for women.
The cream seemed to have done wonders for me. I felt better emotionally and physically than I had in several years. My overall health was noticeably improved. My skin and hair seemed to come back to life. My mood was better. Nevertheless, using the cream was the only thing I had done differently prior to my blood pressure increase. I took a closer look at the dosing instructions on the jar and realized that I had been using the cream continuously instead of the recommended 24 days a month. I was supposed to be using it for approximately three weeks per month, then taking a week off.
Good grief. Pay attention and follow directions – isn’t that what they taught me in kindergarten? I stopped using the cream and within two weeks my blood pressure started to return to normal. After three weeks off the cream, my blood pressure was 116/68, much better numbers. I plan to try the cream again but this time I will use it according to the directions.
My cardiologist did say that some hormone replacement therapies can drive up blood pressure numbers, even when used correctly, so I will be very careful the next time around. Check back with me – I’ll write a follow-up on my continuing saga with hormone cream and blood pressure.