High blood pressure - how long for low salt results to show up??

davefrJanuary 14, 2009

Doc says my BP is too high. I'm determined to try and get it down naturally by going low salt along with other things such as more excersise, other diet changes, etc. I don't want medicine if I can avoid it!!

I admit that my diet has been very high in salt. Does anyone know how long it takes for BP to start coming down once you reduce salt intake. (days, weeks, months??)

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BP changes on a daily basis. Sometimes up and sometimes down. You will see a gradual general decline, but nothing sudden. but it may take months for it to be a permanent change. Other things like stress can also influence the BP.

In other words, a low salt diet may be doing wonders, but if it's hot weather or you just had a bad auto accident and your mother died.....your stress level could boost your BP up until everything in your life returned to normal. Things like that can affect you for weeks and months. So it's hard to say.

From a personal stand point. I can do just fine, then I have a piece of bacon for breakfast, fast food something for lunch and my BP will zoom up. It will take several days before it is back down to acceptable levels.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2009 at 2:59PM
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In general, hypertension is a complex and significant illness. While I applaud your decision to address lifestyle and dietary parameters that may be contributing to your illness, this area is generally too complicated for a layperson to easily treat without assistance. One of the first principles of integrative or CAM (complimentary and alternative medicine) is the principle of biochemical individuality. No two people respond exactly the same to any given intervention, whether it is a drug or a dietary measure. The same is true here. What works for your neighbor will not necessarily work for you.

You should also consider that there are potentially negative consequences to restricting sodium in the diet. There are cases where sodium restriction has actually increased blood pressures in some cases. In addition, the current research indicates that only a small number of hypertensives respond well to sodium restriction.

What may be a better option for you is to consult with a naturopathic physician or other knowledgeable alternative medicine provider. As the other poster noted, there are many components that effect blood pressure. Having a customized hypertension protocol created just for you will allow you to meet your goal of natural health care in the most effective fashion.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2009 at 7:04PM
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I've noticed that if I cut my salt down, I see it within several days. The first thing you might notice is increased urination.
Maybe its the salt in foods, but my BP comes down, when I reduce my food intake too.....even if its not real salty stuff. In the past, I've actually had a bad spike in my BP during the holidays, when I eat too much and too much salty stuff.
Some of us are very sensitive to salt and we have a big response to it, blood pressure-wise, when we decrease it. Hopefully, you'll be that way.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2009 at 11:11AM
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My blood pressure does not appear to have changed on account of my adoption of a low salt diet, but my kidney function improved from 49% to 60% in 3 months.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2009 at 1:22PM
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As others have pointed out, HBP has many root causes that vary widely from person to person, and it's virtually impossible to guesstimate how long it would take for a reduced salt regimen to have an effect on you. Almost all of us would benefit some by reducing our sodium intake.

Since you appear to be averse to medications, I would recommend you purchase a good automatic blood pressure monitor and learn how to use it properly so that you can see for yourself if your new dietary and lifestyle changes are making any difference.

As you may know, HBP is an insidious disease that can lead to all sorts of bad outcomes. One way or another, I would want to get it down. I have a family history of very HBP. Several years ago my doctor suggested I start taking Lipitor. I resisted, so he gave me the full lecture: low salt diet, exercise, etc., etc. At my following year's checkup, my bp had come down a bit, but only very slightly and nowhere near my goal. I then started medication, and my bp plummeted to normal in less than a month. In hindsight, I should have started the medication sooner, given my family history and my own high readings.

Has your doctor explained to you what risks YOU face, given your bp readings?

You, of course, are your own health manager. Your doctor is your advisor. (Mine dispensed advice with the charm of a pit bull.) Whatever you decide to do, I wish you all the best!

    Bookmark   February 4, 2009 at 3:40AM
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Oops. I misspoke. Lipitor was for my high cholesterol. There are many bp medications; mine is Lisiniprol.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2009 at 3:00PM
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Thanks for the responses. I've taken 12 readings/wk over 4 wks. Here are the weekly averages:

Week 1: 148/87
Week 2: 141/85
Week 3: 137/84
Week 4: 135/85

During week 1 I started the following:
- Went low salt
- Fish 2X/wk or fish oil supplement on non fish days
- Improved diet. (less red meat, more fruits, vegatables)
- Exercise (brisk walking 8X/wk at 20-30 minutes ea)
- Garlicon, Q10 supplements

Doc wants me to try to get to 120/80 but I think the rate of improvement is slowing down. I'm going to stay the course for now but not sure if 120/80 is obtainable.

My Dr. also agrees that BP medicine should be avoided if at all possible.

I'm glad I made it from hypertension to borderline but I'd like to get within striking distance of normal. I've only seen two individual readings

    Bookmark   February 5, 2009 at 5:52PM
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I would also like to get my BP down by natural means, since I seem to have side effects to all the medicines prescribed. (I wouldn't worry about a reading of 120 at all. My dr is satisfied when mine averages out to 130.)

I had to call him today because the medication caused swelling of the ankles and general fluid retention. I also developed a skin rash, not sure if that's from the medication or the diuretic. Sigh... He suggested I cut the meds in half and increase the diuretic. I'm not thrilled about that because the diuretic also has side effects. :(

I am trying to reduce my salt intake, I exercise and eat a healthy diet. The only thing left is to lose 10 lbs. I have a passion for salty snacks. Bad for me because of the salt and of all the other additives, so I will need to cut them out of my diet. :(

    Bookmark   February 5, 2009 at 7:27PM
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All I can say is to try going low salt and see if you're one of the people that responds well to a low sodium diet. (some do, some don't).

Mr. Dr. says that BP medicine should be a niche and avoided only when all other natural and lifestyle means fail.

When my Dr. told me my BP was approaching 160 I started reading sodium labels and I was absolutely shocked how much sodium I was taking in on a daily basis. Cerial is loaded with salt, lunch meats are loaded with salt. I like cheese and crackers as an afternoon snack and that was nearly 3000 grams, (ie 2X normal days worth), in a 5 minute snack. I also like Sushi. Well just look at a Soy Sauce label!! I also like pizza but between the crust and the pepperoni that's almost a weeks worth of sodium.

The supermarkets are full of low trans fats and organic foods but good luck finding the low sodium section because it doesn't exist. Yet 1/3 to 1/4 of Americans are believed to have high BP problems and many can be mitigated via low sodium diets.

It takes a huge effort to seek out low sodium foods but give it a try. You can also try and eat potassium rich foods on days that you consume high sodium. They balance each other out.

I'm really pissed the food industry is killing us with mega doses of sodium and no-one seems to care.

However my wife craves sodium and her BP is perfectly normal.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2009 at 9:59PM
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Way to go! I'd say that's pretty darned good results you attained over that one month. Congratulations and keep it up!

    Bookmark   February 5, 2009 at 10:35PM
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Davefr, Yesterday, I was reading Dr Weil's site about HBP. Here are his recommendations:

Limit caffeine and alcohol intake. (No problem.)
Avoid processes foods. (I cook from scratch.)
Maintain optimal weight. (I will lose 10 lbs.)
Relax. (I have no problem relaxing.)
Don't smoke. (I quit smoking 13 yrs ago.)
Exercise. (DH and I exercise 4x per week.)

I know what you mean about all the salt that is in foods at the supermarket. It's in so many processed foods. I do mostly cook foods from scratch for that reason and because they're healthier. Somebody on TV said, don't buy anything with more than 5 ingredients.

Hopefully, my new regimen will show results.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2009 at 6:06PM
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I am 73 years old. Some 30 years ago, my BP started going up, and I was advised to reduce salt. I did it and monitored my BP every day, and watched it go down gradually but steadily. and it stayed down for a few years. Then it started climbing again, and I started taking anti-hypertensive medications. I now take two different such medications to keep my BP within normal range, and I watch my diet.

Eliminating salt from your diet is very difficult because so many things contain salt. It's not just avoiding the salt shaker and avoiding salt in the food you cook. Most people do not know it, but milk, bread and most cold cuts and cheeses contain salt. Meats and fishes also contain some salt. The only things that contain no salt are potatoes, fruit and veggies, rice, grains, beans and unsalted nuts. You can accustom your taste buds to "like" unsalted food and, after a few weeks, you will find even lightly salted things too salty and wonder how you ever ate them. Depending on your personal situation, you might make life very complicated for the people you live with.

If you decide to embark on this low sodium effort, make sure your BP elevation is not so high as to pose a serious risk, because you could do yourself harm if you do not get your BP under control promptly.

Another thing to consider is that some people with high BP have a form of the disease that is particularly salt-sensitive. They respond especially well to reduced sodium intake. If your illness is not of that type, then you will probably eventually find that sodium restriction does not afford you the degree of BP control that you need, and you will have to start taking medication. Of you can try calcium supplements, but they can be constipating.

The cheapest and for most people safest starting antihypertensive medication is hydochlorthiazide (HCZT), which is available as a generic and costs less than $20 per month. It's a very safe drug, and you will probably not experience any unpleasant side effects.

Blood pressure control is one of the few areas where the drug industry has succeeded very well. The available treatments are highly effective and extremely safe. You will hardly know you are taking any medication, and the "silent killer" can be kept safely at bay.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2009 at 10:53PM
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It's hard to cut out cooking habits, but it's one way to cut out a lot of salt.

don't add salt when you cook potatoes, rice, pasta, or even your breadfast eggs. You will be surprised at how quickly you get used to doing without. I found that adding extra pepper or garlic POWDER (not salt) added a little lift, but I soon got so I didn't need it.

And just don't buy those salty snacks!
Good Luck

    Bookmark   February 11, 2009 at 4:47PM
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I never add salt when I cook potatoes or pasta and I use Mrs Dash (salt free) to flavor foods.

As to HCTZ, I have side effects from that, too. Rash, headaches and dizziness. And I get the swollen ankles from amlodipine besolate. I just don't like meds, they all have side effects. I am hoping the new regimen will help.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2009 at 8:47PM
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OK, it's been 2 months so far and I've gone from about 150/90 level down to about the 130/80 level.

I'm not sure I can get below 120 because the averages have leveled off.

I've gone low salt, low cholesteral, more exercise and take Garlicin, Q10 and Fish Oil pills.

What's left to try or is 130/80 even bad? They call it borderline.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2009 at 2:39PM
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