High blood pressure medication side effects

jennJuly 20, 2004

My mom takes medication to control her moderately high blood pressure. I don't know the name of it but I keep meaning to ask.

Anyway I'm wondering if anyone knows whether this type of medication can cause slight personality changes or behaviors that just seem a little bit weird. Mostly, they are social behaviors.

For example, when she calls everyone to come to another room she yells "yoo hoo!" in a high-pitched tone (she knows our names, confusion isn't the issue.) The other day she walked between two of us while we were talking and bent way down almost to the floor so as to not be in our way; in a gathering of close family members, that just seems unnecessary. She also says things occasionally that I think are rude -- for example she recently won a plastic sport bottle somewhere and when she noticed it doesn't have a drinking spout at the top, she said "it's cheap!" to the person who gave it to her. In addition, sometimes her choices about cooking seems a bit off -- for example she'll fix things days in advance and then serve them cold. Several years ago she baked some chicken the day before and then on the day it was served, left it in a cold bowl on the sink and served it cold. (It's easier for her to fix everything well in advance but she seems a little fanatical about it, IMO.) When her cousin and his wife stopped by from out of town in the late afternoon, she served some type of chips; she doesn't like a heavy dinner late in the evening but it seems to me that if people come by at dinner time, announced, a dinner of some sort should be planned either at home or at a restaurant for the sake of the visitors (she's also fanatical about eating early to control her weight).

Do any of these social behaviors sound like a side effect of blood pressure medication? To my knowledge, she doesn't take any other medications or have any other health issues (not that she would tell me if I asked).


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You don't say how old she is, but this could be signs of small strokes, early dementia, or even malnutrition.

Can you discuss it with her doctor?

    Bookmark   July 21, 2004 at 9:57AM
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I go along with lazygarden on this. A big change in behavior is usually a sign that something is beginning to go wrong. Of course, there is always that chance that it's the medication. But I really doubt it.

Is her hearing still good? Sometimes a lost of hearing can so affect a person's life that it upsets a lot of things. They don't know how to react to the strange feeling that they are not connected to what's going on around them.

If you can, let her doctor know. He/she needs to be aware that there is a change in her personality that doesn't seem to fit her usual character. It's something that you need to watch.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2004 at 10:08AM
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Thank you for your responses.

My mom will be 74 next month and as far as I know, she's in good health. She volunteers at the hospital and exercises daily (long walks and Curves).

I wouldn't be surprised if malnutrition was the culprit. She's always battled her weight (who doesn't), an extra 20 pounds or so. When she loses weight she eats very skimpy and is a little compulsive about not eating late. Since last summer she has lost quite a bit of weight and I've never seen her so small. She acts as if she's on top of the world at her new weight. She said she did it by cutting out a lot of bread. She says she isn't eating lo-carb (and in fact ridicules the whole lo-carb craze). But I know how she tends to eat -- tiny portions and she feels "stuffed" after a moderate size meal and then doesn't want to eat for the rest of the day even if that meal is at noon.

It's hard to get information from her because she is very closed up.

She's somewhat of a control freak. She's always taking care of others and telling them what they should do, but doesn't want to take any advice or help in return. It may be hard to get any information from her including her doctor's name. She was seeing someone but considered changing doctors. Nevertheless I will try and see what I can find out. She's sort of an island unto herself so it will be hard.

Thanks again,

    Bookmark   July 21, 2004 at 10:36AM
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You are right. It could be a nutritional problem. I don't guess you know if she takes a multivitamin. At that age she could also be having problems with B12 absorption. That's hard to diagnose but the lack of B12 in the body can cause all sorts of problems.

If she is that way about her affairs and health, there is not much that you can do except watch and wait. Sooner or later, her condition may get to a point that the family may be able to step in and help her.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2004 at 11:43AM
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She was taking a B complex for a while and she may have stopped. She said "the bottle says to take two but I thought more might be better so I take three" -- that's another thing that stands out because she is a retired RN and always was very sensible and conservatibe about taking medications.

She was taking a multivitamin for a while, but may have stopped that too. My dad is a health fanatic and tends to nag and correct her when she starts to take vitamins -- "did you take your vitamins?"; "don't take those together...", etc. I told her to take them in private when he's not around, but I suspect she stopped taking them altogether.

She makes such a big deal about eating a regular sized meal of moderate portions -- "I can't believe I ate all that!" etc. when everyone else ate the same amount or more. Or she passes around her plate at the table at social functions to share her food, saying how full she already is and "I can't eat all this food!" when everyone else is enjoying their full plate (how do I politely stop her from passing around her plate like that? I wish she would just stop eating and not say anything to bring attention to herself). I don't understand what that's all about, but I think if she is so full with half a plate of food when she hasn't eaten for hours, then she is probably undereating (dieting) and her metabolism has slowed down. But whatever I say will go in one ear and out the other -- especially now that she has successfully lost weight and is thinner than ever.

I don't know if she'll ever let any of us do anything for her unless she is totally helpless.


    Bookmark   July 21, 2004 at 3:18PM
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Can you talk to her about the need for vitamins - just a daily multivitamin table for adults could do wonders. B-vitamin shortage can affect your mood and behavior.

She's got a double-whammy going. Elderly people don't absorb them as well, and she's not eating much.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2004 at 7:55PM
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The thing is, she'll claim she's eating plenty. I've been out to lunch with her many times when she gets a sandwich that comes with fruit or fries or some other side dish. She eats most of the sandwich and part of the fries and then for the rest of the day talks about how "big" that lunch was and how "stuffed" she is, as if it was a big 12 oz. steak with potato, bread, salad, dessert, appetizer, etc. It's just a moderate lunch!

Honestly, it's not so much a drastic personality change as it's an extreme form of how she's always tended to be. But now she does more things that exhibit poor judgement that I believe she would not have done years ago.

The most frustrating thing for me is that she sometimes isn't honest about what she does talk about, and changes the subject if anything is brought up that she doesn't want to talk about.

I'll try to bring up the subject and ask if she's still taking the B vitamins and the multivitamin. She just doesn't want to stay on any serious subject for very long so genuine communication with her is almost zero.

So frustrating!!!


    Bookmark   July 21, 2004 at 8:56PM
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I suspect that the remarks about how full she is and how much she ate, etc. are really more of a conversational habit pattern rather than what she really feels. Sometimes she just may not be able to think of anything else to say. I wouldn't worry too much about what she says.

Now, one problem that elderly women have that comes with age is that the figure changes and the stomach pokes out and looks "fat." And then the worse happens. Every little ounce gained seems to go on that gut and makes things worse. When a woman has always been proud of her flat stomach, this can be very disturbing. She may feel driven to "reduce" and it just isn't going to happen. Even the skinny ones have a fat stomach.

But you will never be able to convince her of this.

At her age, let her do what she wants to. Just watch and ignore her behavior until such time as she seems to be really in some sort of difficulty.

Those multivitimins are a good idea. My problem with them is that they are sooooooo huge that I can't swallow them. So I get the chewable vitamins for children. They don't have all the minerals that the multivitamins have, but at least they are something. Perhaps instead of trying to talk to her about taking vitamins, just buy a bottle and give them to her. Might work. Might not.

Good luck with her. No need to fight battles with her.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2004 at 9:10PM
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I agree PB, I don't want to get in to a battle with her. I don't think she's worried about a fat tummy though... she's way too skinny for that now.

I forgot to mention something else -- she has osteoporosis. So wouldn't you think she'd be more concerned with her diet???? Ever since we were kids, when she falls she breaks a bone. The last two times required surgery. But does she take calcium? Does she use the calcium nasal spray the doctor gave her? Noooooo.... "I don't like putting things up my nose..." Grrrrrr!

I agree that I have to just let her make her own choices. But I will keep a closer eye on this and try to talk to my brother as soon as I get a chance. However, when I told him last December (when she wasn't skinny like she is now) that I was concerned about Mom not getting enough nutrition, he said "we'll it doesn't look like she's wasting away". I didn't get a chance to say "I'm talking about nutrition, not calories". And he's very body conscious and his wife thinks my mom looks terrific after all the weight she's lost... so I'm probably the only crazy one in the family. Sigh!

Thanks so much for your comments. Food for thought.


    Bookmark   July 21, 2004 at 9:38PM
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Is there a possibility that she's taking diet pills?


    Bookmark   July 23, 2004 at 3:45PM
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I'd be very surprised... she's fairly conservative about taking medications. She's also very secretive... so anything is possible.

She said the other day that she cut out a lot of bread products except for the peanut butter on toast that she has every morning. She doesn't eat fruit (has never really liked it). So, I'd say she's on a low-carb eating plan even though she wouldn't call it that. Eating lo-carb leads to rapid weight loss. While she does ridicule the lo-carb craze, she may be eating that way without trying to.

It's impossible to get the truth out of her when I ask questions so there's no telling what she's doing.

Can you tell I'm frustrated???


    Bookmark   July 25, 2004 at 1:06AM
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This happened to my Mother just this year....she started acting almost like your Mother...turned out she was dehydrated: after a few days in the hospital getting fluids in her, she was a good as new! I'd make sure she's taking in a good amount of water, and I might try something to get her electrolites and minerals up...like Gatorade or better! Good luck!

    Bookmark   August 26, 2004 at 7:29PM
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