Chicago-area doctor solves blood pressure mystery
Given his family history of uncontrolled high blood pressure, Michael Byrnes of Oak Lawn, Ill., wasn’t about to take his hypertension sitting down. “My mother had coronary bypass surgery at 41, her brother died of a heart attack at 48 and my grandfather died of a heart attack [at] 55,” Byrnes says.
A nonsmoker, numerous doctors and medications failed to lower his high blood pressure. First diagnosed in 2004, it reached upwards of about 150/108. Finally, about five years ago, highly rated family physician Dr. Lloyd Blakeman at Associated Counseling in Midlothian, Ill., determined that a kidney-secreted hormone deserved some blame because it constricted blood vessels that raised Byrnes’ blood pressure. “Dr. Blakeman solved the mystery,” Byrnes says.
But Blakeman didn’t stop at prescribing medication. Instead, Blakeman says he stressed improvements in diet and exercise, a familiar refrain he emphasizes with most patients who have high blood pressure, along with stress management.
Byrnes took heed and benefited in more ways than one. “He’s started going to a personal trainer... He does watch his diet better, and he has been losing weight. It has been helping his blood pressure and his blood sugar and his back problems,” Blakeman says.
Byrnes says he still eats good carbohydrates, such as those found in fruit, but stopped consuming bad carbs in cakes, cookies and breads, and shed weight in the process. “I lost about 26 pounds,” Byrnes says.
He continues to see Blakeman every three months for a checkup at an insurance-adjusted charge of about $80, which his health plan covers completely along with his blood pressure medication. “I’d pay [for] it myself if I had to because it works so well,” Byrnes says.