Frequently Asked Questions About High Blood Pressure
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
9. When Should I Call My Doctor About High Blood Pressure?
If you are diagnosed with high blood pressure, it's important to see your doctor on a regular basis. He or she can answer your questions during these visits.
However, there may be other times when you may need to speak to your doctor. For instance:
- If you aren't responding to the prescribed treatment and your blood pressure is still high
- If you are having any side effects from the blood pressure medication; if this happens, your doctor may wish to adjust the dosage of the medication or put you on another medication.
10. Are There any Drugs that Cause High Blood Pressure?
Some drugs that you take for another condition may increase blood pressure. These include amphetamines, methylphenidate (Concerta, Metadate, Methylin, Ritalin), corticosteroids, hormones (including birth control pills), certain migraine medications, cyclosporine, and erythropoietin.
Also, many over-the-counter medications that contain pseudoephedrine and ephedrine (for example, allergy and cold medicines and appetite suppressants) can increase blood pressure.
Don't stop taking any prescribed medication, including high blood pressure drugs, without talking to your doctor.