Deciding whether to treat high blood pressure with medicine and choosing the best medicine may depend on:
- How high your blood pressure is and what your blood pressure goal is.
- Whether you have signs that high blood pressure has caused organ damage, such as an enlarged heart or early damage to your arteries, kidneys, or eyes.
- Whether you have other medical conditions, such as coronary artery disease, diabetes, or kidney or lung disease or risk factors for heart disease, such as diabetes or high cholesterol.
- Whether you think you can succeed at making lifestyle changes.
Doctors usually prescribe a single, low-dose medicine first. If blood pressure is not controlled, your doctor may change the dosage or try a different medicine or combination of medicines. It is common to try several medicines before blood pressure is successfully controlled. Many people need more than one medicine to get the best results.
Medicine choices include:
- ACE inhibitors.
- Angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs).
- Calcium channel blockers.
- Direct renin inhibitors.
- Other medicines for high blood pressure, including alpha-blockers and vasodilators.
Work with your doctor to find the right medicine or combination of medicines that have the fewest side effects and work well for you. And be sure to take your medicines regularly as prescribed.
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You may have regular blood tests to monitor how the medicine is working in your body. Your doctor will likely let you know when you need to have the tests.
One Man's Story:
"For a few months I was really good about taking (my pills) every day. But they made me a little tired, and I got tired of being tired."-Tyrell
What to think about
- The medicine your doctor chooses may be based on other health problems you have. For example, doctors often prescribe ACE inhibitors for people who have diabetes or heart failure.
- Some people who get a cough while taking ACE inhibitors do well with ARBs, which usually don't cause a cough.
- You may need to avoid some over-the-counter medicines. For example, check with your doctor before you take any nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)-such as naproxen and ibuprofen-with high blood pressure medicines. NSAIDs may raise blood pressure and keep your blood pressure medicines from working well. NSAIDs may also interact with your blood pressure medicine and cause kidney problems.
- Don't take any other prescription medicines, over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, or supplements unless you talk to your doctor first. Medicines can interact with each other and keep blood pressure medicines from working right or cause a bad reaction.