Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Some blood pressure drugs can blind you....

Today's Post:  Wednesday, 8-26-2015

Just a few days ago a local man died who had done a superb and notably honest job of creating and building up a local business.

He was in his early 80’s so many people wouldn’t be surprised.  But in his pictures from not that long ago he looked remarkably healthy.  And he lived here in the center of the most health informed and affluent people in the country. By my expectations for such people, he died at least 10 years early.

Then I read that a year and a half or so ago he had some kind of medical condition that caused him to go blind almost overnight.  He apparently had gone downhill since.

I wondered what had happened to him.  Then just days later I got a health email saying that some drugs for high blood pressure could cause this. People who take them DO sometimes suddenly go blind!

I followed up and found that two classes of blood pressure drugs were most likely to do this.

One I already knew to be a horrible drug that most people should never, ever take and those on it for any reason should stop taking as soon as it can be made safe to do so.  This class of drug, beta blockers, it seems is ALSO most likely to blind people taking it.

The other class was called vasodilators.

Both these drugs with high negative side effects are used to bring down such high blood pressure it’s a life threatening emergency.  But this is or should be a short term use only.

The worst drug for this sudden blindness effect is the beta blockers.  Since they help cause heart failure and ensure anyone with heart failure will get worse but are deliberately given to people with heart failure, I already knew anyone taking them was at very high risk.

But this side effect, sudden blindness, being most likely to be caused by beta blockers I didn’t find out until earlier this week.

Beta blockers are nasty for another reason.  They are addictive and hard to get off of which is complicated by the fact that to be safe and not cause surges of very high blood pressure the process has to be done gradually with the cooperation of your doctor or a very competent pharmacist.

Vasodilators apparently are almost as bad at causing sudden blindness.

The Mayo Clinic has this on vasodilators:

Vasodilators are strong medications and are generally used only as a last resort, when other medications haven't adequately controlled your blood pressure.

These medications have a number of side effects, some of which require taking other medications to counter those effects.

Side effects include:

Chest pain
Rapid heartbeat (tachycardia)
Heart palpitations
Fluid retention (edema)
Nasal congestion
Excessive hair growth
In addition, some vasodilators can increase your risk of developing lupus, a connective tissue disease.”

It seems you can add sudden blindness to this list!

1.  Clearly avoiding sky high blood pressure and knowing to avoid beta blockers and vasodilators would help. 

2.  So would knowing ways to avoid sky high blood pressure.

3.  And so would knowing and using ways to protect your eyesight.

A. Ways to avoid sky high blood pressure:

Get your blood pressure tested relatively often.  At least once a month or so.

Take three readings. And write them down.  If you are taking these protective actions and the blood pressure you get is below about 155 over 95 on ALL THREE readings every time, adding any drugs to lower your blood pressure too adds little protection research found.

BUT if you notice the trend is going up or stress is driving the first number particularly above 155 over 95 or you are about to get there, I found out from personal experience recently that this changes and it will pay you to take a low dose diuretic an ace inhibitor.

So, if you see higher reading than 155 over 95 even for the first reading which is the highest usually of the three, buy a monitor for about $75 and take your blood pressure at least once a week.

If you don’t take the low level and usually safer drugs at that point, you can begin to cause heart and brain and kidney damage.  By taking action at that point plus the healthy lifestyle you are more likely to avoid those.

AND, by stopping the process at that point you can avoid the sky high blood pressure that your doctors might want you to add these two damaging and dangerous classes of drugs to bring down.

Stop eating and drinking disease causing foods. 

Carefully build up to doing some kind of vigorous exercise most days of every week if only for a few minutes. 

And, eat lots of organic vegetables each day and particularly eat at least one piece of organic fresh fruit each day. 

Take at least 200 mg a day of magnesium. 

Avoid ingesting over about 2500 mg a day of salt and avoid ALL MSG.

Learn to overcome and deal with stressful events to the best of your ability. 

Make sure to get at least 6 hours of sleep a night 99 % of the time and take action to ensure what sleep you do get is good quality sleep. (Note that the vigorous exercise if done first thing in the morning most days is one of the top 3 ways to do this!)

So if you do the things above that tend to prevent high blood pressure and take action if it gets to the verge of the 160 over 100 that is most dangerous AND if it does get that high you immediately go to the safer drugs at lower doses, you can avoid being in the situation where your doctors are likely to suggest these more dangerous medications.

B.  Ways to protect your eyesight directly:

1.  Don’t stare into the sun.  Use a hat with a visor angled properly if you have to do this a bit while driving so you can see to drive safely but you can avoid most of the staring into the sun drivers who don’t do this get.

2.  When you are driving in bright sunlight OR very bright overcast, wear dark glasses that both cut glare and are rated to cut UV light.

3.  Take the antioxidant Astaxanthin daily because its tiny size has been shown to be unusually protective for your eyes.  6 mg a day is good; but 12 mg a day is better.

4.  Use other methods that DO protect your heart and never take statins.  Statins cause more cataracts than the few heart attacks they prevent.

(Doing these first four things tends to prevent cataracts or cause them to worsen much more slowly.)

4.  Eat organic fruit that is dark or blue or purple colored and take bilberry supplements.

(Bilberries are a kind of blueberry that is unusually eye protective. It’s easy to get the supplements but very hard to get bilberries in most places.

In England in World War II the RAF pilots who had eaten bilberries reported they saw better, particularly at night.)

Eat organic blueberries at least two or three times a week.

Eat other similar fruit when you can. Organic raisins, organic prunes, organic dark cherries, organic purple grapes, organic plums all work.

5.  The carrot stories are true also.  People who eat organic carrots often also see better and see better at night.  And carrots are not just high in beta carotene. They are also very high in the considerably more protective alpha carotene AND unlike supplements, they have HUNDREDS of other kinds of carotenes!

Also, eat organic broccoli and organic greens that are dark green such as collard greens and kale and swiss chard.  These dark green vegetables have hundreds of carotenes too; it’s just that the dark green pigments hide the yellow and organge and red carotenes!

6.  Take the actions from taking niacin to regular vigorous exercise to totally stopping all foods and drinks with high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, wheat of any kind, and trans fats also.  Why? Because these actions help maintain blood flow everywhere in your body – including your eyes. 

7.  Get eye health exams a least every year or two also. 

With luck these actions will prevent sudden blindness from happening to you!

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