If you're like most people with high blood pressure, drugs are a major part of your plan to lower your blood pressure. Your doctor's goal is to find the right combination of high blood pressure medicines that accomplishes these goals:
Lowers your high blood pressure to normal levels
Is easy to take
Has few or no side effects
How can you work with your doctor to make sure your high blood pressure medicine is meeting these goals? Perhaps these 10 tips can help.
In the vast majority of cases, there are no clear symptoms of high blood pressure (also known as hypertension), which can lead to heart disease, stroke, kidney failure and eye problems if untreated. The only way to find out if you have high blood pressure is to get your blood pressure checked on a regular basis. This is especially important if you have a close relative who has high blood pressure.
If your blood pressure is extremely high, there may be certain symptoms to look out for, including:
Make a List of All of Your High Blood Pressure Medications
Your doctor has many high blood pressure medications to choose from. They work in different ways to lower your blood pressure. Each type of drug has its own possible side effects, so it's a good idea to know exactly which high blood pressure medicines you take. Ask your doctor or pharmacist these questions:
What are the names of my high blood pressure drugs? Ask for both the brand name and the generic name.
How does this medication help lower my blood pressure?
What is the dose?
How often do I take the medication?
Make a list of your high blood pressure drugs, and make a few copies of the list. Take the list with you whenever you visit a health care professional. Give copies to any family members or friends who help with your health care.
Know the Possible Side Effects of Your High Blood Pressure Drugs
Each type of high blood pressure drug has possible side effects. Some side effects may be temporary; some may be more lasting. Some side effects are bothersome; some may be potentially dangerous. Ask your doctor or pharmacist these questions about each of your medications:
What side effects might occur? Which are common and which are rare?
What should I do if I notice side effects?
Are there medicines, food, or beverages that can interact with this drug?
What are serious side effects that I need to be aware of?
Take Your High Blood Pressure Drugs Exactly as Prescribed
High blood pressure drugs work best if you take them as your doctor has prescribed them. So you need to take the right amount at the right times every day. Ask your doctor or pharmacist these questions:
How much of the medication should I take?
How often should I take it?
Are there special instructions, such as to take the drug with food?
What should I do if I miss a dose?
Make a Habit out of Taking Your High Blood Pressure Drugs
It's easier to take your high blood pressure drugs exactly as prescribed when you make it a part of your daily routine. Try some of these ideas to help you remember to take your medication:
Link taking your medicine with another daily routine, such as brushing your teeth or fixing your morning coffee.
Every time you take your medication, mark it down on a calendar or in a notebook. This also gives you a record you can show your doctor so you can both determine how well the medicine is working.
Place reminders in key spots. Sticky notes are great -- they come in a variety of colors and shapes to get your attention. Put reminder notes in places you're likely to see them, such as on your bathroom mirror or by the kitchen sink.
Have a family member or friend call or email you to remind you to take your medicine.