Fibromyalgia and High Blood Pressure
Approximately 4 million people in the U.S. suffer from fibromyalgia, a chronic condition that affects the muscles of the body, leading to pain, fatigue, sleeping issues and a host of other symptoms. In some cases, individuals who suffer with fibromyalgia also suffer from blood pressure issues. In this article we will discuss the relationship between fibromyalgia and high blood pressure, outline symptoms that you may experience if you suffer with high blood pressure and discuss available treatment options.
Basic Overview of Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia includes widespread body pain and tenderness, as well as fatigue. Additionally, it can cause:
- Sleep difficulties.
- Fibro fog (memory and concentration difficulties).
- Numbness and/or tingling in the hands and feet.
- Sensitivity to loud noises and/or bright lights.
- Dry mouth and/or eyes.
- Digestive problems.
- Mood disturbances (anxiety, depression).
Because the symptoms of fibromyalgia overlap with various medical conditions, diagnosis of fibromyalgia is often challenging.
The symptoms of fibromyalgia can have a significant negative impact on the quality of life of individuals who suffer from this condition.
The Connection Between Fibromyalgia and Blood Pressure
Various connections between fibromyalgia and blood pressure have been found.
Certain medications that are used to treat fibromyalgia can cause high blood pressure. In fact, Savella, which is the only drug approved by the FDA for the treatment of fibromyalgia and not any other illnesses, has been found to be associated with high blood pressure – 20% of people taking 100 milligrams per day developed high blood pressure, compared to only 7% of people in the placebo group.
If you are taking a variety of medications for your fibromyalgia symptoms, it is likely that one of them may be causing your high blood pressure. It’s therefore important to have your blood pressure monitored regularly and have your medications adjusted as needed.
Another recent study found that female fibromyalgia patients are a risk group for non-dipping blood pressure; normally blood pressure dips at certain points throughout the day, including during sleep. Having non-dipping blood pressure is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Researchers have also found that the baroreflex is connected to fibromyalgia. The baroreflex is responsible for maintaining homeostasis (balance) in the body. Of particular interest, is that the baroreflex is involved in keeping blood pressure at a nearly constant level. A small problem with the baroreflex can cause significant blood pressure fluctuations that can lead to dizziness, exhaustion and other symptoms. Issues with the baroreflex can affect an individual’s ability to maintain proper blood pressure when they encounter a stressor.
On any given “normal” day, the least little thing can trigger a full-blown flare-up leaving you feeling bruised and beaten, to say the least.
Symptoms of High Blood Pressure
Most people who have high blood pressure have no signs or symptoms. When symptoms are experienced, they may include:
- Shortness of breath.
Monitoring Your Blood Pressure
Because many people experience high blood pressure without symptoms, it is important to monitor your blood pressure regularly, which is quite simple. Purchasing a blood pressure machine for home use will allow you to check your blood pressure in the comfort of your house, or you can have it checked at your local pharmacy or doctor’s office. It’s important to keep a diary that lists the time the measurement was taken, blood pressure level and any notable stressors so that you can discuss the results with your doctor.
6 Best Treatment Options
Not only is exercise, including gentle stretching and aerobic exercise, the most effective treatment option for fibromyalgia, but it can also help to improve your heart health and reduce your blood pressure.
2. Stress Management
Learning ways to manage your stress, including counseling, meditation, deep breathing and/or cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), helps to manage symptoms of fibromyalgia and can also help to improve heart health and control your blood pressure.
3. Eating Healthy
Consuming a diet rich in fruit and veggies, seed and nuts, whole grains, healthy oils, lean poultry, fish and low-fat dairy can improve your heart health and help to maintain proper blood pressure.
4. Taking a High-Dose Multivitamin and Increasing Magnesium Intake
Taking a high-dose quality vitamin and taking 500 milligrams to 800 milligrams of magnesium a day has been associated with a reduction in blood pressure.
5. Systolic Extinction Training (SET)
This combines operant treatment (lifestyle, environmental and behavioral changes) with Baroreflex training (electrical simulation delivered at specific points of the cardiac cycle). In a small study, it was found to be effective in fibromyalgia patients with elevated blood pressure in response to stress. However, more research is needed.
6. Pindolol (Beta Blocker)
This may help to lower blood pressure and also control other fibromyalgia symptoms, including pain.
Having fibromyalgia and blood pressure issues can be debilitating and lead to a lower quality of life. It’s important to follow your prescribed treatment plan and monitor your blood pressure regularly to keep your levels within a healthy range. Improving heart health by making simple lifestyle changes and changing medication as needed can go a long way to improving your quality of life if.