The goal of treatment is to reduce your blood pressure so that you have a lower risk of complications. You and your provider should set a blood pressure goal for you.
If you have pre-hypertension, your provider will recommend lifestyle changes to bring your blood pressure down to a normal range. Medicines are rarely used for pre-hypertension.
You can do many things to help control your blood pressure at home, including:
- Eat a heart-healthy diet, including potassium and fiber.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Exercise regularly for at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise a day.
- If you smoke, quit.
- Limit how much alcohol you drink to 1 drink a day for women, and 2 a day for men.
- Limit the amount of sodium (salt) you eat. Aim for less than 1,500 mg per day.
- Reduce stress. Try to avoid things that cause you stress, and try meditation or yoga to de-stress.
- Stay at a healthy body weight.
Your provider can help you find programs for losing weight, stopping smoking, and exercising.
You can also get a referral to a dietitian, who can help you plan a diet that is healthy for you.
How low your blood pressure should be and at what level you need to start treatment is individualized, based on your age and any medical problems you have.
MEDICINES FOR HYPERTENSION
Most of the time, your provider will try lifestyle changes first and check your BP 2 or more times. Medicines will likely be started if your BP readings remain at or above these levels:
- Top number (systolic pressure) of 140 or more in people younger than 60 years
- Top number of 150 or more in people 60 years and older
- Bottom number (diastolic pressure) of 90 or more
If you have diabetes, heart problems, or a history of a stroke, medicines may be started at lower blood pressure reading. The most commonly used blood pressure targets for people with these medical problems are below 130 to 140/80 mmHg.
There are many different medicines to treat high blood pressure.
- Often, a single blood pressure drug may not be enough to control your blood pressure, and you may need to take two or more drugs.
- It is very important that you take the medicines prescribed to you.
- If you have side effects, your doctor can substitute a different medicine.