Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is dangerous because it can lead to strokes, heart attacks, heart failure, or kidney disease. The goal of hypertension treatment is to lower high blood pressure and protect important organs, like the brain, heart, and kidneys from damage. Treatment for hypertension has been associated with reductions in stroke (reduced an average of 35%-40%), heart attack (20%-25%), and heart failure (more than 50%), according to research.
High blood pressure is classified as:
Normal blood pressure: less than 120/80
Hypertension: greater than 140/90
Stage 1 Hypertension:140-159/90-99
Stage 2 Hypertension: 160 or greater/100 or greater
All patients with blood pressure readings greater than 120/80 should be encouraged to make lifestyle modifications, such as eating a healthier diet, quitting smoking, and getting more exercise. Treatment with medication is recommended to lower blood pressure to less than 140/90. For patients who have diabetes or chronic kidney disease the recommended blood pressure is less than 130/80.
Treating high blood pressure involves lifestyle changes and possibly drug therapy.
Eating a healthy diet, including the DASH diet (eating more fruits, vegetables, and low fat dairy products, less saturated and total fat).
Reducing the amount of sodium in your diet to less than 1,500 milligrams a day if you have high blood pressure. Healthy adults need to limit their sodium intake to no more 2,300 milligrams a day (about 1 teaspoon of salt).
Limiting alcohol to two drinks a day for men, one drink a day for women.
In addition to lowering blood pressure, these measures enhance the effectiveness of high blood pressure drugs.
Drugs to Treat High Blood Pressure
There are several types of drugs used to treat high blood pressure, including:
Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
Angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs)
Calcium channel blockers
Diuretics are often recommended as the first line of therapy for most people who have high blood pressure.
However, your doctor may start a medicine other than a diuretic as the first line of therapy if you have certain medical problems. For example, ACE inhibitors are often a choice for a people with diabetes. If one drug doesn't work or is disagreeable, other types of drugs are available.
If your blood pressure is more than 20/10 points higher than it should be, your doctor may consider starting you on two drugs or placing you on a combination drug.
High Blood Pressure Treatment Follow-Up
After starting high blood pressure drug therapy, you should see your doctor at least once a month until the blood pressure goal is reached. Once or twice a year, your doctor will check the level of potassium in your blood (diuretics can lower this, and ACE inhibitors and ARBs may increase this) and other electrolytes and BUN/creatinine levels (to check the health of the kidneys).
After the blood pressure goal is reached, you should continue to see your doctor every three to six months, depending on whether you have other diseases such as heart failure.