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Ask Dr. Gott 1/2
Do blocked arteries cause high blood pressure?
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    DEAR DR. GOTT: I am truly amazed at the number of times in which your column appears precisely when it is just exactly what I needed. Today was a classic example when it showed up in my newspaper.
    The lead topic was leg cramps. It described precisely what I have been experiencing. Moreover, it said to do exactly what I am doing about it.
    I've had the arteriogram test and others. The result is that I will have angioplasty surgery, which is supposed to correct the problem.
    Now, I have a question related to this arterial condition. Does the blockage that I have contribute to elevated blood pressure, for which I take several prescribed medications? I learned in high school physics class (1947) that liquids cannot be compressed. I could conclude that when the pump (the heart) cannot force blood through some arteries, there may be elevated pressure in trying to do so.
    DEAR READER: The issue is not so much your blood pressure (which should be addressed as a separate problem) as it is the condition of your arteries. The angioplasty will remove obstructing plaque in your lower body but not in your neck, heart, brain and upper body. You don't mention your age, but if you were in physics class in 1947, you are probably growing old gracefully. Arterial blockages are a universal problem in 78-year-olds.
    If your kidney circulation were compromised, hypertension could result. But with lower-extremity occlusion, you needn't worry about that.
    I don't know how far this analysis will lead you because no one is comfortable knowing they have major arterial blockages just waiting to cause trouble.
    Discuss this with your physician. One option is to undergo whole-body CT scanning. This relatively new test enables physicians to see much of the body's innards, but the X-ray exposure is frightfully high.
    To give you related information, I am sending you copies of my Health Reports "Coronary Artery Disease" and "Hypertension."

    DEAR DR. GOTT: A number of years ago, you advised someone to use potassium for Charlie horses. I know this works for me. I take two or three 99-milligram tablets per day. If I miss several days, I know I'll get them. I said something to a friend of mine, and he says he doesn't want to be without them. Since he started taking them, he does not have any cramps. Thanks for the advice.
    DEAR READER: Potassium is a vital mineral that is necessary for normal metabolism. If your family doctor has approved your use of potassium pills, that's fine. But too much potassium can lead to serious consequences, such as heart irregularities, so I would ask his or her opinion. Meanwhile, cut back to as few potassium pills as will prevent cramps, or you might try high-potassium foods, instead. These include orange juice, bananas and dried fruit.
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