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Hypertension/High Blood Pressure Health Center

5 Misconceptions About High Blood Pressure

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Fourth Misconception About High Blood Pressure Is About Treatment continued...

The DASH eating plan. The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) plan includes eating less fat and saturated fat as well as eating more fresh fruits and vegetables and whole-grain foods. Limiting use of salt and alcohol can also help lower your high blood pressure. A dietitian can help you find ways to meet these goals without giving up your favorite foods or great flavor.

Weight Control. Being overweight increases your risk of developing high blood pressure. Following the DASH eating plan and getting regular exercise can help you lose weight. Ask your doctor to help you determine a goal. Your doctor can also refer you to other health care professionals for assistance in setting up a weight loss plan.

No smoking. Tobacco smoke can make blood pressure rise. It can also directly damage your heart and blood vessels. Talk with your doctor about ways to quit.

Medication. Your doctor is likely to prescribe medication to control your high blood pressure. It's common to take more than one drug to treat high blood pressure. Your doctor may ask you to switch drugs or change the dosage until you find a combination that works best to control high blood pressure with the fewest side effects for you. Medications used to treat high blood pressure include:

  • Diuretics to reduce the amount of fluid in your blood by helping your body rid itself of extra sodium.
  • ACE inhibitors, alpha-blockers, and calcium channel blockers to help keep your blood vessels from tightening.
  • Beta-blockers to prevent your body from making the hormone adrenaline. Adrenaline is a stress hormone. It makes your heart beat harder and faster. It also makes your blood vessels tighten. All of this makes blood pressure higher.

Fifth Misconception About High Blood Pressure: Treatment Doesn't Work

In fact, if you work with your doctor to develop a comprehensive program for managing your high blood pressure, that plan can work. To maximize the benefits of your plan, follow these steps:

  • Check your blood pressure as often as recommended by your doctor.
  • Follow your treatment plan consistently. Let your doctor know right away if you have problems with parts of the plan. Your doctor may refer you to other health care professionals who can help.
  • See your doctor as often as requested. Bring your blood pressure records to show your doctor how the plan is working.
  • Ask your doctor or pharmacist for information about medication side effects. Know when to call your doctor if there is a problem.

Learning about high blood pressure and how it can harm your health is the first step in controlling this condition -- so you can remain healthy for years to come.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Thomas M. Maddox, MD on June 12, 2012
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