Preventative Maintenance

Last night I got up to go to the bathroom and I was dizzy, really dizzy. My husband suggested it was my blood pressure so when I got to school I had the nurse check it.

I may not be the gold standard of 120/80 but I was not bad. I hate taking medication but I take it for my blood pressure. As I get older there is not only the possibility of blowing a gasket but there is some (inconclusive) evidence of an association between hypertension and AMD. In any case, I don’t want to make things worse in the eye department.

After being harangued and harassed for years about my blood pressure (part of the reason I have white coat syndrome!) and now taking medication, I was a little dismayed by a medicalxpress.com article reporting there are preliminary findings suggesting some blood pressure meds are associated with much greater risk of developing AMD! What is up with that?

As part of the Beaver Dam studies, they have been collecting data on eyes since 1987. Their data indicated there is a correlation between the use of vasodilators such as some people take for blood pressure and the development of AMD.

Please remember correlation does not mean causality. In other words they could be running together but one is not causing the other. For example, Florida has the largest number of elderly of any state but living in Florida does not make you old.

There are other factors at work. Just the same, something is related between them and we should figure out what it is.

The researchers also found that beta blocker use was associated with increased risk of developing AMD. In particular it was associated with the development of wet AMD. Beta blockers are used for treating heart disease.

Now the article did not say whether the control group also had some form of circulatory system disorder for which they were receiving different treatments. Therefore it is hard to say if it is the medication doing the damage, the underlying, circulatory disease doing the damage or a third factor underlying both the circulatory disease AND the AMD doing the damage. Inquiring minds want to know but we don’t seem to have an answer to that yet.

Because we don’t know, if you are concerned, talk to your doctor and see what he or she has to say before doing anything. Don’t make any drastic changes based on one study. Your doctor is your expert and you should make informed decisions in concert with him.

Me? My high blood pressure meds are diuretics so I don’t need to worry about the meds. However, if I had to guess – and this is a guess from a layperson – my money would be on an underlying genetic snafu wreaking havoc with both our circulatory systems and our eyes.

And until they can lift the genetic hood and make the necessary repairs on that level? Preventive maintenance, my dears, preventive maintenance. Watch what you eat, get your exercise and, yes, take your medication as prescribed.

April 12th, 2017

Next: Quack, Quack

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