Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is dangerous because it can lead to strokes, heart attacks, heart failure, or kidney disease. The goal of hypertension treatment is to lower high blood pressure and protect important organs, like the brain, heart, and kidneys from damage. Treatment for hypertension has been associated with reductions in stroke (reduced an average of 35%-40%), heart attack (20%-25%), and heart failure (more than 50%), according to research.
High blood pressure is now classified as a systolic blood pressure greater than 130 and diastolic over 80.
To prevent high blood pressure, everyone should be encouraged to make lifestyle modifications, such as eating a healthier diet, quitting smoking, and getting more exercise. Treatment with medication is recommended to lower blood pressure to less than 130/80 in people older than age 65 and those with risk factors such as diabetes and high cholesterol.
Treating high blood pressure involves lifestyle changes and possibly drug therapy.
A critical step in preventing and treating high blood pressure is a healthy lifestyle. You can lower your blood pressure with the following lifestyle changes:
In addition to lowering blood pressure, these measures enhance the effectiveness of high blood pressure drugs.
There are several types of drugs used to treat high blood pressure, including:
Diuretics are often recommended as the first line of therapy for most people who have high blood pressure.
However, your doctor may start a medicine other than a diuretic as the first line of therapy if you have certain medical problems. For example, ACE inhibitors are often a choice for people with diabetes. If one drug doesn’t work or is disagreeable, additional medications or alternative medications may be recommended.
If your blood pressure is more than 20/10 points higher than it should be, your doctor may consider starting you on two drugs or placing you on a combination drug.
After starting high blood pressure drug therapy, you should see your doctor at least once a month until the blood pressure goal is reached. Once or twice a year, your doctor may check the level of potassium in your blood (diuretics can lower this, and ACE inhibitors and ARBs may increase this) and other electrolytes and BUN/creatinine levels (to check the health of the kidneys).
After the blood pressure goal is reached, you should continue to see your doctor every three to six months, depending on whether you have other diseases such as heart failure.