Treatment of High Blood Pressure

(This is the third of a three part series on high blood pressure. The first part described the definition of high blood pressure, and the second part discusses signs, symptoms, and complications of high blood pressure.)

Treatment of high blood pressure requires a willingness to change your lifestyle and to take medications regularly if this is necessary.

Lifestyle

Here are the key lifestyle changes that will either prevent high blood pressure in the first place or lower it so that it is not a danger to your health in the second place. If you are willing to maintain these changes, you will not only prevent high blood pressure, but you will have a very high quality life as well.

  • Stop smoking or chewing tobacco
  • Lose weight
  • Limit alcohol intake to 2 drinks or less daily
  • Increase physical activity to 45 minutes four or more days a week
  • Reduce salt in your diet
  • Maintain adequate potassium, calcium and magnesium in your diet
  • Reduce saturated fat and cholesterol in your diet

Studies have clearly shown that a diet that emphasizes fruits and vegetables is very helpful in lowering blood pressure. Such a diet is called the DASH diet (diet to stop hypertension) and is described in detail here:

http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/hbp/dash/new_dash.pdf

If you combine DASH with reduction in salt intake and reduction in calories, the benefits will be enormous.

Drugs

There are more than 60 different drugs that are available for the treatment of high blood pressure. Surely there are several that would work for you. The drugs are divided into different classes based on their mechanism of action. The classes include:

  • Diuretics: drugs that lower blood pressure by forcing the body to rid itself of salt and water through the kidneys
  • Beta-adrenergic receptor blockers: reduce the force of contraction of the heart
  • Calcium channel blocking agents: reduce blood pressure by relaxing the muscles of the heart and arteries
  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors: affect the system in the kidney know as the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system that keeps the blood pressure high. By inhibiting angiotensin converting enzyme, the substance that produces aldosterone is blocked and blood pressure is lowered.
  • Angiotensin II receptor blockers: lowers blood pressure by not allowing angiotensin II to attach to its receptor where it causes contraction of arteries and release of aldosterone

There is definitely a drug in all these that will work for you, but no drug works if you don’t take it.

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