Hypertension Treatments

The goal of hypertension treatment is to reduce blood pressure levels. Treatment of hypertension often does more than lower blood pressure readings, however. Studies indicate that hypertension medication and proper lifestyle changes reduce the risk of serious hypertension complications.

Effective hypertension treatment can reduce your risk of stroke by 35 to 40 percent. Heart attack risk drops by 20 to 25 percent with successful treatment, and heart failure risk drops by half. This statistics hold true for all types of hypertension treatment, so long as the treatment drops blood pressure to target goals.

Treatment for Hypertension through Lifestyle Choices

While hypertension medications are effective, changes to the patient’s lifestyle are often the first line of treatment. Doctors often recommend the following lifestyle changes to people who require treatment for hypertension:

  • Daily aerobic exercise for at least thirty minutes
  • Eating a low sodium, low cholesterol diet high in fruit, vegetables and fiber
  • Limiting alcohol consumption
  • Losing weight if overweight
  • Quitting smoking.

Your doctor will recommend lifestyle changes that lower blood pressure even if she also prescribes hypertension medication. Following these recommended lifestyle changes improves how effectively hypertension medication works.

Hypertension Medication Options

Hypertension medication includes diuretics, ACE inhibitors and angiotensin II receptor blockers. Because each of these may affect people in different ways, you may have to try different medications to determine which offers the best treatment for you.

Doctors generally prescribe diuretics first. Diuretic hypertension medication stimulates the kidneys to eliminate water and sodium. Diuretics reduce blood volume, which in turn reduces blood pressure.

Other hypertension medications provide treatment of hypertension in slightly different ways:

  • Angiotensin II receptor blockers relax blood vessels by blocking the action of the chemical angiotensin.
  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme (AVE) inhibitors relax blood vessel walls by impairing the formation of the chemical angiostensin.
  • Beta blockers expand blood vessels and make the heart beat slower.
  • Calcium channel blockers relax blood vessel muscles.
  • Renin inhibitors lower kidney production of renin, an enzyme that begins a chemical reaction ending in increased blood pressure.

Sometimes, doctors will prescribe combinations of these medications to treat high blood pressure. If medication is part of your treatment regime, follow the prescribed dosage carefully and never stop taking your medication without first consulting with your doctor. Serious side effects can occur when taking multiple medications at once.

Resistant Hypertension Treatment

If a combination of three hypertension medications fail to lower blood pressure, the patient is said to have “resistant hypertension.” People who successfully control high blood pressure with four different medications are also considered to have resistant hypertension.

Resistant hypertension does not mean that all treatments for hypertension are ineffective–only that more investigation into the cause of the hypertension is required. Resistant hypertension may indicate the presence of a secondary condition that is raising blood pressure.

If your primary healthcare provider cannot identify the cause of resistant hypertension, you may be referred to hypertension specialist. Once a cause of resistant hypertension is discovered, it is usually possible to find a treatment for hypertension that works.

Resources

eMedicine Health Staff. (n.d.). High blood pressure. Retrieved January 28, 2010, from the eMedicine Health Web site: http://www.emedicinehealth.com/high_blood_pressure/article_em.htm.

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2008). High blood pressure (hypertension): Treatments and drugs. Retrieved January 28, 2010, from the Mayo Clinic Web site: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/high-blood-pressure/DS00100/DSECTION=treatments-and-drugs.