Okay. We seem to know what it isn’t. Now it’s a matter of finding out what it is.
Right before the holidays, I changed primary care doctors. Found someone fantastic, who is also an acupuncturist. Unlike the half-dozen other primary care doctors I’ve seen since I was first found to have hypertension at an unusually young age, this one thought it was worthwhile to find out what the cause is.
My pattern of drug-resistant hypertension combined with hypokalemia suggested primary aldosteronism, also called Conn’s Syndrome. The PCP referred me to a nephrologist who is also a specialist in drug-resistant hypertension. The specialist was clearly annoyed when I told him that for the nine years I’ve had this condition, nobody has ever bothered to investigate why. (Per USC’s website: Sudden onset of hypertension (high blood pressure) in a young patient without any family history of hypertension should be investigated for the presence of endocrine tumors such as pheochromocytoma, Conn’s syndrome and abnormalities of the renal artery as a cause for their underlying hypertension.)
He ran labs for PA. Inconclusive. Took me off a couple of meds, then ran some more. Negative. Totally not what was expected – a fairly high percentage of non-elderly patients who have high BP and low potassium have PA, and the protocol for treating it is pretty straightforward. I’m not one of them, so, it’s more needles for me.
Yesterday he sent me to St. John’s Hospital for some more specialized blood work. The idea is to rule out a pheochromocytoma. Yeah, I hadn’t ever heard of it either, but now I’m being tested for it, and I have to say, the symptoms sound really familiar.
The test results should take about a week to get back to me. So, more waiting.