Hypertension Controlling

The goal of hypertension treatment is to lower high blood pressure to healthy levels. Sometimes, hypertension is treated with blood pressure medication. Other times lifestyle changes are sufficient for hypertension control.

Blood Pressure Medication and Hypertension Control

A wide variety of blood pressure medications may be prescribed to lower high blood pressure levels. Some of these include:

  • ACE inhibitors help keep blood vessels from constricting.
  • Beta blockers reduce the force of heart contraction.
  • Diuretics help flush sodium and excess fluid out of the body.

Blood pressure medications should always be taken under a doctor’s supervision. If you have been prescribed medications for blood pressure control, be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions and stick to the correct dosage schedule.

Following the DASH Diet

Diet is often used to control high blood pressure. Your doctor may prescribe the DASH diet (the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension diet). The DASH diet focuses on limiting sodium intake (which increases blood pressure via the retention of excess fluid) and helping people lose excess weight.

Losing Weight to Control Blood Pressure

Many people who have hypertension are overweight, and excess weight is a known risk factor for hypertension. Fortunately, losing as little as ten pounds of excess weight can reduce a person’s blood pressure.

Most people see hypertension levels drop the closer they are to their ideal weight. Even if weight loss doesn’t control hypertension alone, losing weight helps blood pressure medication work more effectively.

Controlling Hypertension with Exercise

A sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of hypertension. Regular exercise helps control high blood pressure. Thirty to sixty minutes of exercise at least four times a week can lower blood pressure significantly in some people.

Consult with your doctor before starting any exercise program intended to fight hypertension. Health conditions caused by high blood pressure may determine which type of exercise is safest for you.

Stress Reduction and High Blood Pressure

Stress causes temporary increases in blood pressure, but the long-term effects of stress on hypertension are unknown. What is known is that many unhealthy ways of coping with stress – drinking, binge eating and smoking, for instance – do contribute to high blood pressure. Learning to handle stress in a healthy manner can reduce blood pressure and make you better able to cope with life’s challenges.

Smoking, Drinking and Caffeine

Tobacco smoking damages the blood vessel walls and increases fluid retention, two factors associated with high blood pressure. Blood pressure rises by 10 mmHg for an hour after smoking. Quitting smoking can greatly improve the chances of controlling high blood pressure.

Alcohol plays an odd role in hypertension. Excessive alcohol consumption raises blood pressure and damages the heart, further increasing hypertension risk. However, in small amounts (less than one drink a day for women and two for men) alcohol may actually lower high blood pressure. Alcohol consumption can also interfere with blood pressure medication, so check with your doctor before drinking while on hypertension medication.

Coffee and caffeinated beverages cause temporary spikes in blood pressure. Whether or not caffeine causes long-term increase in blood pressure is still a matter of debate, but doctors recommend limiting caffeine consumption, particularly if you’re at high risk for hypertension.

Monitoring Hypertension

If you have hypertension, regular blood pressure readings should be part of your treatment plan, so you and your doctor can track how you respond to blood pressure medication and other treatment options.

Resources

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2008). Ten ways to control high blood pressure without medication. Retrieved January 26, 2010, from the Mayo Clinic Web site: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/high-blood-pressure/HI00027.

National Campaign to Control Hypertension Staff. (n.d.). What you should know about keeping blood pressure under control. Retrieved January 26, 2010, from the ControlHypertension Web site: http://www.controlhypertension.org/patient/media/pdf/know/7_NCCHhandout_highbp.pdf.

National Heart Lung and Blood Institute Staff. (n.d.). Treatment of high blood pressure. Retrieved January 26, 2010, from the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute Web site: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/hbp/treat/treat.htm.