I am near 70 and have had Congestive Heart Failure, Persistent Atrial Fibrillation, Chronic Tachycardia, Chronically High Blood Pressure, Immune System Dysfunction, Insulin Resistance, Pre-Diabetes and Asthma for over twenty years.
I have learned four essential steps for lowering my blood pressure down to very healthy levels, reducing my heart rhythm problems, improving my heart failure, improving my Immune System/Neurohormonal System problems, and at the same time improving my general health. These four essential steps could also provide significant improvements to immune disorders, such as Multiple sclerosis (MS), Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and Fibromyalgia.
I have no medical training or education, so I don't know how much these four essential steps would help others, but I'll document them here anyway.
The four essential steps are:
Being on a healthy diet. In my opinion, the overall healthiest diet, especially for those with chronic disease(s), consists of frequent, small portion, high fiber, low calorie, balanced meals, based on the Glycemic Index. Because of the profound improvement in my health, I intend to stay on this small, frequent, high fiber diet the rest of my life. I love it!
Finding out, and avoiding, the things (triggers) that cause over-activation of the Immune System and the NeuroHormonal System. Heart Failure, and other heart problems, result in over-active Hormonal Systems, which is the body's attempt to increase the pumping ability of the heart by pouring out excess "helpful" hormones.There are also things that trigger either the Immune System or the Neurohormonal System to cause even additional hormones and other body chemicals to be produced, causing unhealthy stress to our systems, and resulting in a worsening of heart failure, high blood pressure, heart rhythm problems, and many other health problems, such as immune systems disorders like MS, CFS and Fibromyalgia. Who would have thought that a curative impact on all these diseases would be as simple, easy and inexpensive, as understanding and avoiding the things that trigger these diseases to get progressively worse!? The "helpful" chemicals, hormones and cytokines, are not so helpful when they are over-produced and are constantly circulating in the body. The over-production of these body chemicals need to be blocked or inhibited through either medications, avoiding the "triggers", or both.The over-production and over-circulation of hormones, cytokines, etc., can cause damage to organs, glands, joints and nerves, and make you feel sick as a dog, with fatigue, anxiety, mental confusion, headaches, etc.. Medicines, like Ace Inhibitors, Calcium Channel Blockers, Beta Blockers, Renin Blockers all attempt to block, or inhibit, the overproduction of hormones, and to block or inhibit inflammatory cytokines, such as tumor necrosis factor-a (TNF) and Interleukin-6 (IL). These inflammatory cytokines are additionally produced by the body to counteract the over-production of Hormones, but these inflammatory cytokines can be very damaging, and are what causes worsening Heart Failure and worsens other health problems. The more "triggers" of the Immune System, or the NeuroHormonal System, that can be avoided, the less medication that is required. Make sense? For instance, if you can avoid triggers that cause even more over-activation of the adrenal glands, you might thusly require lower dosages of medication that attempt to block the Adrenal Glands, like Beta Blockers.The triggers that cause an over-active NeuroHormonal System and the triggers that cause an over-active immune system can be the same triggers or completely different triggers.
Exercise, exercise, exercise!Exercise is important, but until my health got better through proper diet and avoiding triggers that cause Heart Failure to get progressively worse, I could only do very limited exercise. Very slowly and gradually I was able to increase physical activity and exercise. Many times I would overdo it and suffer from difficult breathing, chest pains, over-sweating, increased heart rhythm problems and fatigue.My current exercise schedule, spread throughout the day, is about fifty pushups a day, 300 lifts with 10 pound weights per day per arm, 450 steps per day, per leg, on my stepper; and power walking one hour per day in two 30 minute sessions. Not bad for a elderly guy suffering from Heart Failure for over 20 years, huh? One benefit that I didn't expect to see is a significant improvement in my varicose veins. Who'd of thunk!
Taking the correct meds on the correct schedule.
Finding out which medicines work best, and when is the best time to take them, is complex and extremely difficult. I've taken, and suffered with, many different heart/blood pressure medications before I figured out what works best for me.
To be on the most effective medications, for your unique health problems, you must be in the care of an effective, skilled, caring medical professional. If you are not getting, or feeling better, you should question the ability and effectiveness of your health professional(s).
I currently take 12.5mg Coreg twice a day; .25mg Digoxin once a day; Warfarin 2.5mg once a day, Flovent and Flonase. You have to admit, that is a very low level of medication for treating all of my chronic diseases.
Note 3/30/2009: I Love Coreg!!! :)
Heart Failure is a progressive disease. That means that it usually gets worse with time, not better. I was limited prior to age 60, but I felt that I was holding my own. Entering my 60's, my health got much worse, with worsening fatigue and weakness, constant chest pains, mental confusion and constant problems breathing, especially when lying down. I was forced to sleep sitting up to limit my breathing and heart rhythm problems.
Now..... close to my 70's, my health is quite good, although I am still limited by my disease(s). My heart is damaged, and while improved, my heart will always be compromised. The most important lesson, I've learned, has been that, even during one's 60's, heart failure does not necessarily have to lead to death and morbidity.
When my symptoms worsened, back in 1998, I started taking my blood pressure many times per day. It wasn't until 2004, when I incorporated all four essential steps, that my blood pressure, and health, started the long journey back towards better health. I started documenting my journey, right here on HealthBoards, in January 2005 on a thread, I called, Does an "Insulin Resistance" diet improve blood pressure? The link to that thread is: http://www.healthboards.com/boards/showthread.php?t=242229 At that time, I did not really know if I would continue to improve, or continue to get worsening heart failure.
These were my annual "average" blood pressure readings from 1998 through 2008.
1998: 152/97, readings=1016; Standard Deviation= Systolic of 15 and Diastolic of 9An average of 152/97 for the ENTIRE YEAR! Is it any wonder why I was getting worse!?
1999 : 146/92, readings=3599; Standard Deviation= Systolic of 14 and Diastolic of 9An average of 146/92, each and every day, for the entire year. Better than 1998, but still a serious health problem!
2000 : 145/92, readings=3322; Standard Deviation= Systolic of 12 and Diastolic of 8
2001 : 147/92, readings=2375; Standard Deviation= Systolic of 12 and Diastolic of 7
2002 : 150/96, readings=1423; Standard Deviation= Systolic of 13 and Diastolic of 8
2003 : 151/96, readings=1032; Standard Deviation= Systolic of 13 and Diastolic of 8
2004 : 146/90, readings=2065; Standard Deviation= Systolic of 14 and Diastolic of 8
2005 : 139/86, readings=2526; Standard Deviation= Systolic of 12 and Diastolic of 8
2006 : 136/79, readings=3269; Standard Deviation= Systolic of 12 and Diastolic of 7
2007 : 126/74, readings=2720; Standard Deviation= Systolic of 12 and Diastolic of 7An average of 126/74 for the entire year. There is hope that I can survive these nasty diseases! :)
2008 : 122/72, readings=2543; Standard Deviation= Systolic of 12 and Diastolic of 7
My Cholesterol Numbers are also great, without ever having to take statins!
Total Cholesterol: around 160
HDL: around 60
LDL: around 90
Trig: around 60
Ratio: < 3
As long as I adhere to the four essential steps, I don't have to worry about my blood pressure or worsening heart failure or heart rhythm problems, etc.
The solution, and steps, one must take, to significantly improve most cases of high blood pressure, worsening heart failure, most heart rhythm disorders and many other immune system diseases are amazingly simple, but takes a lot of work.
My health is slowly improving day by day. I feel younger, stronger, more alert, and with more energy. I never expect my heart to fully recover, but at this point, who cares! After 20+ years of dealing with Heart Failure, I am certainly not going to complain! :D