Managing High Blood Pressure

Published on Jan 31, 2019
Medically reviewed by Lisa Tarasenko, PharmD, MBA

“Why isn’t my blood pressure medication working? Why do I need more blood pressure medication?” If you’re one of the estimated 103 million Americans living with high blood pressure (also called hypertension), you may be concerned or disappointed when your blood pressure is not controlled, especially when you are taking your blood pressure medication on a regular basis. Read on to learn more about high blood pressure and how you can manage it.

What is high blood pressure?

Blood pressure is the force of the blood as it flows through your blood vessels. If that force is too great, you could have high blood pressure. The American Heart Association defines normal blood pressure as a reading of less than 120/80.

High blood pressure can affect people of any age, but is more likely to occur in older people. Left untreated, it can increase your risk of stroke, cardiovascular disease, vision problems, heart disease, and kidney disease.

Make lifestyle changes part of your treatment plan

If you have high blood pressure, your healthcare provider may prescribe one or more medications to help manage it. He or she may also talk with you about making lifestyle changes a part of your overall treatment plan.

Lifestyle changes may include:

  • Reducing your sodium (salt) intake: If you have high blood pressure, watch your salt intake. Reducing the amount of salt in your diet by 1,000 mg a day can lower blood pressure.  A low-salt diet such as the DASH diet can be helpful.
  • Exercising: At least 90 to 150 minutes of exercise every week can play an important role in controlling your blood pressure. Be sure to check with your healthcare provider before starting a new exercise program.
  • Losing weight: For people who are overweight or obese, losing as little as 5 to 10 pounds can be an effective way to help lower blood pressure.
  • Limiting alcohol: Drinking too much alcohol can raise your blood pressure. In general, more than one drink per day for women and more than two drinks per day for men is too many.
  • Quitting Smoking: Every time you smoke, it causes your blood pressure to rise. It also increases your risk for heart disease and stroke. Quitting smoking will improve your overall health and reduce your risk for heart attack and stroke.
  • Being careful with over-the-counter medicines: Always talk with your pharmacist before taking any over-the-counter or complementary alternative medicines. Some of these medicines (such as certain decongestants) can increase blood pressure.  

Making lifestyle changes may lower your blood pressure enough that your healthcare provider may even lower the amount of blood pressure medication you take.

Don’t forget to take your blood pressure medication as prescribed

While making lifestyle changes can be an important part of your blood pressure treatment plan, (if you’ve been prescribed medication) it’s important that you take your blood pressure medication exactly as prescribed by your healthcare provider. If you’re having trouble remembering to take your medication, having reminders, such as alerts on your cell phone or notes, can help you make it part of your daily routine. Also speak to your pharmacist about ways to help you remember.

Talk with your healthcare provider to learn more about steps you can take to help manage your blood pressure.

[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14]

References

  • 1. American Heart Association. More than 100 Million Americans Have High Blood Pressure, AHA Says. Accessed July 25, 2018.
  • 2. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. High Blood Pressure. Accessed October 4, 2018.
  • 3. American Heart Association. Shaking the Salt Habit to Lower High Blood Pressure. Accessed October 4, 2018.
  • 4. National Institute on Aging. DASH Eating Plan. Accessed December 14, 2018.
  • 5. American Heart Association. Getting Active to Control High Blood Pressure. Accessed October 4, 2018.
  • 6. American Heart Association. Managing Weight to Control High Blood Pressure. Accessed October 4, 2014.
  • 7. American Heart Association. Limiting Alcohol to Manage High Blood Pressure. Accessed October 4, 2018.
  • 8. American Heart Association. Smoking, High Blood Pressure and Your Health. Accessed October 4, 2018.
  • 9. American Heart Association. Understanding Over-the-Counter (OTC) Medications and High Blood Pressure. Accessed October 4, 2018.
  • 10. American Heart Association. How High Blood Pressure is Diagnosed. Accessed July 25, 2018.
  • 11. American Heart Association. Know Your Risk Factors for High Blood Pressure. Accessed July 25, 2018.
  • 12. National Institute on Aging. High Blood Pressure. May 2, 2018. Accessed June 15, 2018.
  • 13. American Heart Association. What You Should Know About High Blood Pressure and Medications. Accessed July 26, 2018.
  • 14. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Tips for Taking Medicine for High Blood Pressure. December 2013. Accessed June 18, 2018.
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