High blood pressure substantially raises a person’s risk for heart disease, heart attacks, strokes and kidney failure. Luckily, high blood pressure can easily be controlled through a combination of good nutrition, healthy lifestyle habits and appropriate medication.
A healthier, more positive approach to daily life is usually the most effective means of bringing blood pressure under control. A person can usually lower blood pressure by making the following lifestyle changes:
- Quit smoking and avoid second-hand smoke.
- Limit the intake of alcohol and caffeine. and fats.
- Cut down on salt
If blood pressure doesn’t respond to lifestyle changes alone, the healthcare provider may prescribe blood pressure medication. Selecting an appropriate drug or combination of drugs may take several steps. The healthcare provider may choose from among a number of drugs, including:
- diuretics, which help the body eliminate excess fluid and salt;
- beta blockers, which block the effect that adrenaline has on the heart, making it pump more slowly and less forcefully;
- and calcium channel blockers, which allow arteries to dilate, thus decreasing blood pressure.
Blood pressure medications only work properly if taken exactly as prescribed. So follow the instructions and take your medications at the same time every day. If you are taking blood pressure medication and notice uncomfortable side effects, don’t stop taking the medication without your healthcare provider’s consent, because a sudden change in the medication schedule can cause your blood pressure to rise to a dangerous level.
If you have special medical concerns or if you’d like to learn more about how high blood pressure is treated, consult your healthcare provider.