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 promptly.
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
- Seeking 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).
If you are over age 60, the goal of hypertension treatment is a systolic pressure of 150 and a diastolic pressure of 90. The goal of treatment is 140/90 for those under age 60.
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