I was diagnosed as essential hypertension 14 years ago. Had terrible intolerances and reactions to all classes of meds. BP marginally controlled with Maxzide 25 1/2 tab, higher dose caused muscle cramps.
In 2000 bp consistantly 160s/100s, tried several more meds with no improvement, lost weight, did strict DASH diet, BP continued to climb. In 2004 while on Maxzide had a serum potassium of 3.1 with routine labwork.
It was reported to me by mail that all my labwork was in normal range. That year I started having increasing fatigue and muscle weakness, sudden onset knee effusion without injury, increased incidences of headaches.
I switched primary docs because he was doing nothing except blaming me for my hypertension, that I just didn't want to take drugs, he ignored the fact my knee had been swollen for several months and my activity tolerance was tanking. I was 52 and he didn't even do an EKG, I had never had one.
New PCP did all labs and EKG, echo, had to play catch up as I really had little done by former PCP.
I had mild LVH, and mild hypertensive retinopathy. Again I was told I needed to get control of the BP or stroke.
Routine lab showed serum K of 2.9, I was not on meds.
I was constantly tired and achy. Was sent to Allergists, Rheumatologist and GYN. Diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and Osteoarthritis, enviornmental allergies, perimenopause.
Potassium difficult to get to normal range on a high potassium diet, eventually needed supplements at increasing doses of oral K (up to 80 meq per day) PLUS BP readings through the roof at 220/110 at times, average 180-190/100s.
Serum K continued to be a problem, I requested nephrology referral which was delayed for several months while PCP tried more diuretics and meds to control my BP, which didn't work and threw me into terrible muscle cramps, hand cramps, foot cramps.
I refused to take any more meds and finally got the referral.
Nephrologist did Aldosterone/Cortisol/Renin blood test showing high aldosterone, which sent me on a three week rush of tests that correctly diagnosed me as Secondary Hypertension caused by an aldosterone secreting adrenal adenoma on the left side.
I have had surgery, (6 wks ago) and now am normotensive and have normal electrolyte balance.
I lost almost two years of my life. I had been working 4 per diem jobs and kept cutting hours till I didn't work at all. My body hurt constantly, I didn't know what it was like to be pain free. I basically layed on the couch for months, any activity was an effort. A Dr appt or grocery shopping was all I could do in a day. I had 56 Dr appts last year and about 50 this year with no one discovering the real cause of all my problems.
No help was offered to me at all. Told to adapt to it, I had fibromyalgia, that is part of it, I needed to cut down. I was "getting older" and in "perimenopause" I probably would never have the energy I once had.
I have no pain now, I have energy through the roof, I can exercise, clean cupboards and closets, go shopping, all in one day. I go from one activity to another without even thinking about it when before even taking a shower was a big effort.
I find through research that few physicians think of secondary causes of hypertension and that is a shame.
Research shows that up to 15% of drug resistant hypertensives could have hyperaldosteronism.
I cannot get the two years I was so sick back. Hopefully I did enough through diet and supplements that I didn't do too much damage to my body with the very high pressures. Can't help but think my life expectancy has been shortened somewhat by this misdiagnosis.