Frequently Asked Questions About High Blood Pressure
5. How Do I Know if I Have High Blood Pressure?
High blood pressure often doesn't have any symptoms, so you usually don't feel it. For that reason, hypertension is usually diagnosed by a health care professional during a routine checkup. If you have a close relative with hypertension, or other risk factors, it is especially important to pay attention to your blood pressure reading.
If your blood pressure is extremely high, you may have unusually strong headaches, chest pain, difficulty breathing, or poor exercise tolerance. If you have any of these symptoms, seek an evaluation immediately.
6. What Is the Treatment for High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure treatment usually involves making lifestyle changes and, if necessary, drug therapy.
Lifestyle changes for high blood pressure include:
- Losing weight
- Quitting smoking
- Eating a healthy diet, such as the DASH diet, which is high in fruits, vegetables, lean protein and whole grains and low in salt and fat
- Reducing the amount of salt in your diet
- Regular aerobic exercise (such as brisk walking)
- Limiting alcohol consumption
- Seek treatment for sleep apnea
Commonly prescribed high blood pressure drugs include ACE inhibitors, angiotensin receptor blockers, diuretics, beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers, and alpha-blockers (alpha-adrenergic antagonists).
7. What Are the Side Effects of High Blood Pressure Drugs?
As is true with any medication, high blood pressure drugs have side effects. Among the most common are the following:
- Diuretics: headache, weakness, low potassium blood levels
- ACE inhibitors: dry and persistent cough, headache, diarrhea, high potassium blood levels
- Angiotensin receptor blockers: fatigue, dizziness or fainting, diarrhea, high potassium blood levels
- Calcium channel blockers: dizziness, heart rhythm problems, ankle swelling
- Beta-blockers: dizziness or lightheadedness, decreased sexual ability, drowsiness, low heart rate
- Alpha-blockers: dizziness, headache, pounding heartbeat, nausea, weakness, weight gain
8. What Type of Diet Should I Follow if I Have High Blood Pressure
A healthy diet, such as the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet, is effective in helping to lower high blood pressure. The DASH diet calls for a certain number of daily servings from various food groups, including fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
The following steps can also help:
- Eating more fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy foods
- Eating less of foods that are high in saturated fat and cholesterol, such as fried foods
- Eating more whole grain products, fish, poultry, and nuts
- Eating less red meat and sweets
- Eating foods that are high in magnesium, potassium, and calcium
- Eating foods with less sodium