High blood pressure cure? For some, this treatment's not a conn

Short Version/TLDR: I used to have HBP. Now I don't. If you have HBP and low potassium, check out Conn's syndrome. If you have Conn's, an operation can fix it. I had the op in 2013 when my BP was 150/100 while on BP meds. At the end of 2013 it was 120/70 w/out meds, and it still is.

#HBP = #HighBloodPressure

Why am I re-sharing this information?

I wrote about my experience with Conn's syndrome back in 2013. This blog post is simply a re-sharing of what I wrote back then. (Some links may be broken, I will try to fix soon.)

Why am I doing this? Every time I hear a person say "I have high blood pressure" or HBP, my thoughts go like this:
  • I know what HBP is like.
  • HBP is not very nice.
  • HBP can shorten your life.
  • I am extremely fortunate that I don't have HBP any more.
  • Should I tell this person about Conn's syndrome?
Of course, the answer to that question depends on a range of variables: who is the person saying they have high blood pressure? Where is this being said? Do I know this person? I try to weigh these variables before speaking, but as people who know me will tell you, I tend to err on the side of speaking up, sometimes to strangers. I also have a tendency to speak up about some things that other people might prefer to keep private.

On the other hand, a fair number of people have thanked me for sharing the story of my battle with high blood pressure because they found it helpful - even if a bit icky. (As the saying goes: your mores may vary.) And that is why I wrote about my experience - so people could "read all about it" if they wanted to, rather than listen to me talk about it. Also, I could refer people to my blog if there was not the time or inclination to go into details in person.

So here are the relevant blog posts in historical order (as in earliest first - I am not suggesting that these articles are 'historic'):

June 4, 2013: The adrenalectomy story begins...
Sorry I’ve been out of touch (my adrenal adenoma is to blame)

June 5, 2013: The Conn is on...
Cobb’s got Conn’s? Probably, but I go through Adrenal Vein Sampling (AVS) to be sure

July 13, 2013: A geek worried about a robot?
Robot or not? Robotic surgery and risk, part one

August 25, 2013: Success is in sight!
Adrenalectomy, from pain to promising signs of progress

What now?

I always intended to write one more blog post on this topic, documenting the long-term prognosis and perhaps adding some references. I guess this is that 'one more' blog post. Sadly, I don't have time to do a full reference list but this article on Conn's syndrome is quite helpful, as is this more technical paper).

My sense from reading the literature is that there will be many more cases like mine: people cured of their HBP, often after years of being told that their HBP had no known cause and they just weren't eating and living right. These people will be identified by: [a] continual improvements in ultrasonography (US), computed tomography (CT), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI); and hopefully [b] greater awareness of Conn's syndrome.

The summer of 2018 marked the five year anniversary of my operation and return to 'normal' blood pressure without drugs. It has been a busy five years. I started a masters degree in late 2014 and graduated in early 2016, all while carrying a very full workload (from an employer wise enough to subsidize graduate school tuition).

For the most part I have felt pretty healthy. I have had some issues with my digestive system and I sometimes wonder if that is a lingering side effect, not of the adrenalectomy itself, but the infection I got during my hospital stay. Nevertheless, that operation was well worth it and I feel very fortunate that - thanks again to a wise employer - my health insurance covered it. I am reminded that it is in the national interest for everyone to have access to affordable healthcare, so that the negative economic impact of conditions like HBP can be reduced by more efficient diagnosis and treatment.

Here's to good health, and lower BP!