High Blood Pressure

Treating High Blood Pressure

A Lifelong Focus

If you have high blood pressure, you will need to treat it and control it for life. This means making lifestyle changes, and, in some cases, taking prescribed medicines, and getting ongoing medical care.

In most cases, your goal is probably to keep your blood pressure below 140/90 mmHg (130/80 if you have diabetes or chronic kidney disease). Normal blood pressure is less than 120/80. Ask your doctor what your blood pressure goal should be.

Treatment can help control blood pressure, but it will not cure high blood pressure, even if your blood pressure readings appear normal. If you stop treatment, your blood pressure and risk for related health problems will rise. For a healthy future, follow your treatment plan closely. Work with your health care team for lifelong blood pressure control.

Healthier Habits Can Help

Some people can prevent or control high blood pressure with these healthy lifestyle habits.

If you combine healthy lifestyle habits, you can achieve even better results than taking single steps.

Keep Up Your Healthy Habits

Although some people can control their high blood pressure with lifestyle changes alone, many people can't. Keep in mind that the main goal is blood pressure control. If your doctor prescribes medicines as a part of your treatment plan, keep up your healthy lifestyle habits. They will help you better control your blood pressure.

Common Blood Pressure Medications

Blood pressure medicines work in different ways to lower blood pressure. Some drugs lower blood pressure by removing extra fluid and salt from your body. Others affect blood pressure by slowing down the heartbeat, or by relaxing and widening blood vessels. Often, two or more drugs work better than one.

Here are the types of medicines used to treat high blood pressure.

After You Start Medication

Check and record your blood pressure often to see if the medicine is working for you. If your blood pressure continues to measure 140/90 mmHg or higher (130/80 or higher if you have diabetes or chronic kidney disease) after you start taking medicine, your doctor may need to add a second drug or try you on different medicines until you find one that helps you reach your goal.

Don’t stop taking your medicine if your blood pressure is normal. That means the medicine is working.

Be sure to talk with your doctor or health care provider about side effects from your medications, and don't make any changes to your medications without talking with your doctor first.

Remembering to Take Your Medications

It is important that you take your blood pressure medication the same time each day. There are a few tips to make this easier to remember.

  1. Put “sticky” notes in visible places to remind yourself to take your high blood pressure drugs. You can put notes on the refrigerator, on the bathroom mirror, or on the front door.
  2. Place your drugs in a weekly pillbox, available at most pharmacies.
  3. Try to link taking your medication with something else that you do regularly, like brushing your teeth.
  4. Keep your high blood pressure drugs on the nightstand next to your side of the bed.
  5. Try keeping a chart or calendar to write down when you take your drugs. Keep this calendar posted so you can quickly see if you've taken your drugs. Use colored pens to help you keep track of more than one type of medication.
  6. If you have a smartphone, find out about texting services and applications (apps) that can send reminders.
  7. Establish a buddy system with a friend who also is on daily medication and arrange to call each other every day with a reminder to "take your medicine."
  8. Ask one or more of your children or grandchildren to call you every day with a quick reminder. It's a great way to stay in touch and little ones love to help the grown-ups.
  9. If you have a personal computer, program a start-up reminder to take your high blood pressure drugs or sign up with one of the free services that will send you reminder e-mail every day.
  10. Remember to refill your prescription. Each time you pick up a refill, make a note on your calendar to order and pick up the next refill 1 week before the medication is due to run out.