High blood pressure vanquished

Heart Scan Blog reader, Eric, related his blood pressure success story to me:

I'm 34 and have been battling chronic hypertension (systolic 150-200, depending on my anxiety levels) even with multiple prescriptions for over a decade now. I've seen four different cardiologists, all stumped as to what is causing my hypertension. First, they suspected coarctation of my aorta [a constriction in the aorta], but an angiogram determined blood pressure readings were the same on both sides of the narrowing.

The second angiogram performed last year to determine if my coarct had worsened determined that it had not, but that my aorta had calcium build up. The cardiologist was stumped because he told me he hasn't seen calcium in a patient so young. Needless to say, this scared me to death, with my wife being pregnant with our first child. I asked if it could be reversed and he didn't know so he sent me to get a Berkeley lab.

The Berkeley came back with LDL 91, HDL 41, Triglycerides 73, CRP 4.1, vit D 26. The doctors weren't very knowledgeable about explaining to me what these meant and how I could correct the low vit D and high CRP. They told me to follow the low-fat diet recommended by Berkeley. Well I've already tried the DASH diet and didn't like how I felt or my energy levels, so I didn't transition.

I was at a loss until I encountered your blog and it was truly a gift. It was a refreshing feeling to meet a knowledgeable Dr. who knew what I was going through and seems to truly care about reversing calcium in the heart (something I never got from my any of my cardiologists). With your blog I have an appointment to get a heart scan here in CO and take that number along with my Berkeley results and join Track Your Plaque.

For the past 2 weeks I've been following your advice by taking a D3+K2 supplement with Omega3 Fish oil and avoiding all grain, wheat, sugar and I'm already down 4lbs to 223.5lbs at 6'5" tall and my blood pressure readings have been 128/54 and 129/60 the past 2 days! With your help I may not have the dark future my father had: dead at 48 with a massive heart attack.

Stay on the look out because I look forward to telling you how I'm one of your top calcium losers!

Eric, Colorado

Conventional medical care fails at so many levels for so many people. While Eric's doctors were busy contemplating the next angiogram, they were neglecting several crucial aspects of his health.

It's really not that tough. But it can mean doing the opposite of what conventional "wisdom" tell us.

Comments (28) -

  • Kurt

    1/19/2011 3:40:59 PM |

    Slightly off topic, but I'm wondering if you've had patients complain of sleeplessness when they take Vitamin D. I take 1000iu in the morning; if I take more, I can't get to sleep at night.

  • Patty

    1/19/2011 3:51:39 PM |

    Congratulations to Eric! That is an incredible improvement in your blood pressure.  And I am very happy for you and your family.  

    Thanks Dr. Davis,  for continuing to share these amazing stories.

  • Anonymous

    1/19/2011 4:35:03 PM |

    I've just learned the hard way that HTN in someone young, that has to be treated with multiple meds, can sometimes be caused by a condition called primary aldosteronism.

    Eric, if your docs have not tested your plasma aldosterone and plasma renin activity, *please* ask them to.

  • Anonymous

    1/19/2011 5:06:59 PM |

    Blood pressure is related to the relative tension of the blood vessels.  So, how does that relate to the buildup of plaque?

    Is it that relaxed cells are less likely to allow plaque to adhere/incorporate?

    I have low blood pressure; sometimes 90/60.  However, I don't feel that means my risks of plaque buildup can be ignored or can it?

  • Eric

    1/19/2011 5:16:21 PM |

    Thanks for the super kind words Patty- I'm feeling better than I have in a long time!

    I'll have to see if my plasma aldosterone and plasma renin have been tested. I know my potassium levels get low, but not sure if it's related to the HCTZ Rx or not. Thanks for the heads up though!

    As far as blood pressure and plaque- I was advised that the many years my BP was uncontrolled it caused calcification of my aorta (plaque). Not sure if this is correct, Dr. D would be the expert on this. I am getting my calcium score done on Tuesday, but I know I have calcium build up based on the angiogram images.

  • Anonymous

    1/19/2011 6:50:10 PM |

    Eric, low potassium combined with HTN is often the first indicator of an aldosterone problem. They thought my low K was related to the HCTZ that I took for some 5 years, but it turned out that the other med I was on - Diovan - masked the issue.

    Most primary care docs haven't even heard of primary aldosteronism (or they don't remember the five minutes they spent on it in med school) so they don't routinely order the test. Which is a shame, because some of us spend years misdiagnosed with primary HTN when our HTN is really secondary to the aldosterone issue.

  • Eric

    1/19/2011 7:03:30 PM |

    That is crazy- during the years I have researched many secondary causes and don't remember even reading about Primary Aldosteronsim.

    How did they finally determine it was this and what treatment did you receive for it? Thanks for the info.

  • Bean

    1/19/2011 8:23:05 PM |

    Hey Doc
    Can you bring us up to speed on K2 supplementation.  I saw your "nasty natto" post from a few years ago about how it might be promising treatment but back then it was still too early to tell.. What have you learned since then? How/when do you prescribe it?  Are there particular brands you recommend?
    Thanks for this great blog and for your tenacity in speaking truth to power.

  • Apolloswabbie

    1/19/2011 9:30:49 PM |

    Awesome work and inspiring for many who no doubt also felt as thought they had no option to restore their health.  I meet these people all the time, and many are so frustrated they are no longer taking in new information; but for the ones who will try, transformation awaits.

  • Anonymous

    1/19/2011 10:26:22 PM |

    Hi Eric - regarding primary aldosteronism, I'm only in the first stage of being diagnosed, but here's what I know. The causes are most often an adrenal tumor (in which case they remove the entire gland, at least in the U.S.) or less commonly, a condition known as bilateral hyperplasia, which affects both adrenals. For the latter, they can't do surgery; usually the protocol is spironolactone and a low-salt diet for life. There's also a third possibility, a very rare condition known as GRA that requires meds. I don't know which of these I am yet - I'm waiting for the insurance company to approve further testing.

    In over 9 years of unexplained HTN, I hadn't heard of it either despite lots of research (hey, I'm a trained librarian!). I got lucky - in October I changed primary care doctors and the new doc immediately referred me to a specialist. Both recognized the high BP/low K as symptoms of PA. The high aldosterone/low renin was confirmed by a blood test. Next test is a CT scan to see if there is a tumor.

  • Andrew

    1/19/2011 11:30:28 PM |

    From Wikipedia:

    "CRP is a general marker for inflammation and infection, so it can be used as a very rough proxy for heart disease risk. Since many things can cause elevated CRP, this is not a very specific prognostic indicator. Nevertheless, a level above 2.4 mg/l has been associated with a doubled risk of a coronary event compared to levels below 1 mg/l"


    "CRP is associated with lipid responses to low-fat and high-polyunsaturated fat diets."

    Hopefully, your CRP levels have fallen along with the blood pressure.

  • Dr. William Davis

    1/19/2011 11:30:43 PM |

    Hi, Kurt--

    Yes, some people are very sensitive to the effect.

    The only way I know to deal with it is to increase dose to the desired level very, very gradually, e.g., additional 1000 units every 3-6 months.

  • Anne

    1/20/2011 11:23:00 AM |

    Slightly off topic here too - has anyone info on Hyperalphalipoproteinemia. That is high cholesterol due to high HDL. Does anyone know the figures for a typical lipid profile for a diagnosis of Hyperalphalipoproteinemia ?

    Many thanks in advance

  • Davide

    1/20/2011 2:00:25 PM |

    I'm just curious what exactly caused Eric's BP to drop in such a short period of time. Obviously, the diet changes and supplementation lead to it, but what did those things do to cause the change?

  • Gillian

    1/20/2011 2:30:56 PM |

    Dr Davis,
    I also would like to know what K2 supplement you recommend nowadays..?

  • Eric

    1/20/2011 4:25:45 PM |

    Bean & Gillian-

    Dr. Davis advised me on Track Your Plaque that he is recommending 1,000mg/day of K2 that has a mix of short acting MK4 and long acting MK7. He suggested Life Extension "Super K". Hope this helps.


  • Eric

    1/20/2011 4:29:44 PM |

    Davide- I think it was a combination of diet, supplementation and reduced anxiety.

    When you have a cardiologist tell you he's never seen something like calcium in an aorta, made my anxiety level sky rocket. Especially when they had no clue how to stop or reverse the build up.

    Reading Dr. D's blog and info on Track Your Plaque put control back in my court and that was extremely beneficial to my mental stress.

    It's amazing the biological affects the mind can create.

  • Dream_Puppy

    1/20/2011 6:21:34 PM |

    Dr. Davis,

    Thank you so much for your blog. After your comment on Atenolol I have been inspired to once and for all conquer my insane hypertension. I have a blog to track my progress. I am doing low carb, real food, exercise and a shitload of supplements.

    I'll let you know how it goes.

  • Might-o'chondri-AL

    1/20/2011 7:40:37 PM |

    Hyper-alpha-lipo-proteinemia is an uncommon genetic trait detected mostly(?)among the
    Japanese, French Quebequois and South African Boers. One curious
    peculiarity is a thick Achilles tendon; another is women with HDL over 70 mg/dl (men's HDL is more confusing if they drink alcohol).

    Their cholesterol ester transport protein (CETP)is less active. Instead of HDL being able
    to pass cholesterol fractions over to lipoprotein B those esters stay "stuck" in the HDL.

    Person's HDL gets large as it fills with re-cyclable cholesterol. This only becomes problematic when their
    macrophages become overloaded with LDL it (the macrophage) picked up. Those LDL laden macrophages can, in certain individuals, go on to become the
    nefarious foam cells.

    In this case, the "full up" HDL can't "snatch" up much LDL from the "filling up" macrophage. Sure, HDL is around, but there's diminished capacity to "unload".
    I can't say if (or how) CETP can "break down" in a "normal"
    person and cause them to develop
    clinical hyper-alpha-lipoproteimenia.

  • Anne

    1/20/2011 7:51:24 PM |

    Thanks Might-o'chondri-Al ! Most interesting. My HDL is 116 so am wondering if my 'hypercholesterolemia' is due to Hyperalphalipoproteinemia as my trigs are only 36 but total is high at 333. Trying to find out as much as I can....and there isn't much info around.

  • Tami

    1/20/2011 7:57:48 PM |

    @  Might-o'chondri-AL :

    Does that mean japanese people could do bad on a high fat- low carb diet?

  • Might-o'chondri-AL

    1/21/2011 12:48:34 AM |

    Hi Tami,
    Blog being Doc Davis' I won't presume to give dietary advice.
    If you lay out your reasoning maybe readers will try to work  out a good theory with you.

    Hi Anne,
    My favorite cousin's total cholesterol ran over 300 for years; she's 76 - with  medical "help". I think, in the post before this one's comments thread, Doc Davis gives his office phone for arranging paid consultations (a man asked for it). Free internet advice has it's limitations.

  • Anne

    1/21/2011 9:05:59 AM |

    Hi Might-o'chondri-AL,
    Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately !) I live in the United Kingdom so a telephone consult to the US is out, especially as we can't get the same kinds of tests done in the UK that people in the US can get done - believe me I've tried asking for particle size tests and Lp(a) and asked privately, rather than NHS, and still not been able to get them. Ideally I should be able to ask these questions on a UK forum or blog devoted to heart health, but such a forum doesn't exist so I have to rely on the good will of people like you or Dr Davis. If I can get sufficient information to present to my cardiologist then he will do the necessary, I'm absolutely sure of that, I just need a little bit more info !

  • Anonymous

    1/21/2011 1:08:35 PM |

    @ Anne:

    I'd suggest looking for a private lab that tests for as many of the tests as Dr Davis recommends. If Claymon Biominis has branches in the UK, they can do most tests, excluding the advanced lipoprotein testing.

    In the meantime, join the Track Your Plaque site, it costs very little and has wonderful resources, an almost overwhelming array, in fact!

    When you've got your basic tests done, book a cheap flight to the USA and schedule advanced lipoprotein testing, an appt and a heart scan with Dr Davis. That's my plan.

    Good luck!

  • Anne

    1/21/2011 1:53:01 PM |

    Hi Anonymous,

    Private labs in the United Kingdom won't do any of the tests unless a doctor does a bona fide request form. I have private medical care as well as NHS and I cannot get those tests because even though they would be done privately the doc is not prepared to ask for those tests considering them unnecessary.

    Medicine is very different in the UK. Patients are unable to self refer to doctors or to private labs for tests. However, once I have just a little more info - I'm not asking for medical advice at all but just info on how Hyperalphalipoproteinemia is diagnosed - to present to my doctor he will be more likely to look into this.

    Doing phone consults to the US or even flying out there and seeing a US doc would not go down at all well with a doc here in the UK - they are unlikely to take any consultation or tests I have in the US seriously. I know that's a pain, but medicine is more tightly regulated here.

    The internet is great but it has its limitations :-( Sorry for wasting peeps time.

  • Might-o'chondri-AL

    1/21/2011 6:11:43 PM |

    O.K. Anne,
       I don't want to detail how my cousin's life has gone; there is no way to guess it relates to you. If you are young,around 30, you should consider seeking out a medical opinion now; I hear in U.K. you'll get on a waiting list.

    You asked for a symptom for a doctor to look into - your HDL reading is it. IF you already had one who said "never mind & go away" try to see a different doctor for your peace of mind. You can not conclude that you have hyperalphalipoproteinemia just because it might explain your data.  
    High HDL in Japanesse was originally seen as a sign of longevity. So researchers figured more of a good thing should mean it's even better. Then the genetics of hyperalphalipoproteinemia was found - in some, not all.

  • Anne

    1/21/2011 6:47:36 PM |

    Yes..I guess I should just go back and ask the doctor to explain the high HDL then and see what he comes up with then...before I start a stain that is !

  • peter

    1/19/2012 8:29:49 AM |

    very helpful: http://itunes.apple.com/pl/app/bloodnote-blood-pressure-control/id493849490?mt=8