People diagnosed with high blood pressure can take steps to control hypertension and reduce risks for related health problems. Most people diagnosed with hypertension require lifelong treatment. Key steps include following a healthy lifestyle, ongoing medical care, and following a doctor prescribed treatment plan. Sticking to a treatment plan is important.
High blood pressure (HBP) is mainly treated with lifestyle changes and medicines. The treatment goal for most adults is to get and keep blood pressure below 140/90 mmHg. For adults who have diabetes or chronic kidney disease, the goal is to get and keep blood pressure below 130/80 mmHg.
High blood pressure can be treated with a change in diet. In fact, healthy eating can help you control hypertension and/or prevent health problems related to blood pressure problems.
Alcoholic drinks - You also should try to limit alcoholic drinks to no more than one (women) or two (men) alcoholic drinks a day.
Dietary supplements - Although diet and exercise are the best tactics to lower your blood pressure, some supplements also may help decrease it. While it's best to incorporate dietary supplements in your diet as foods, you can also take supplement pills or capsules. Talk to your doctor before adding any of these supplements to your blood pressure treatment plan. Some supplements can interact with medications, causing harmful side effects. Dietary supplements for high blood pressure include:
- alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)
- blond psyllium
- cod-liver oil
- coenzyme Q-10
- Oomega-3 fatty acids
Eating plan - People diagnosed with high blood pressure can look into the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating plan, which is low in fat and cholesterol. The diet focuses on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and other foods that are good for the heart and lower in sodium (salt). DASH suggests fat-free or low-fat milk and dairy products, fish, poultry, and nuts with less red meat (even lean red meat), sweets, added sugars, and sugar-containing beverages.
Salt - To help control high blood pressure, it is very important to limit the amount of salt in your diet. You should eat no more than about 1 teaspoon of salt a day. Also avoid mineral water, as it may contain large amounts of sodium per glass, which can cause an increase in blood pressure despite changes in diet and use of medications.
Healthy habits can help you control high blood pressure. Combining these suggestions can help you achieve even better results than by making single efforts. But keep in mind that lifestyle change is difficult and that the main goal is blood pressure control. Start by making one healthy lifestyle change and then adopt others. Healthy habits include:
Exercise - Regular physical activity can lower high blood pressure and also reduce risks for other health problems. Aim to get at least 30 minutes of moderate to intensity activity (brisk walking, dancing, bowling, riding a bike, working in a garden, and cleaning the house) on most or all days of the week. You can exercise for 30 minutes at once, or break it down into periods of at least 10 minutes each. It’s important that you check with your doctor about how much and what kinds of activity are safe for you before you start and exercise regime.
Healthy weight - Maintaining a healthy weight can help control blood pressure and also reduce your risk for other health problems. If you're overweight or obese, aim to reduce your weight by 7 to 10 percent during the first year of treatment. .After the first year, aim to lower body mass index (BMI) to less than 25.
Quit smoking - Smoking can damage blood vessels and raise the risk for developing high blood pressure. Smoking also can worsen health problems related to hypertension. If you smoke or use tobacco, quit. Also, take steps to protect yourself from second hand smoke.
Stress management - Managing stress and learning to cope with stress can improve emotional and physical health. Physical activity helps some people cope with stress. Other people listen to music or focus on something calm or peaceful to reduce stress. Some people learn yoga, tai chi, or how to meditate.
Some people can control blood pressures with lifestyle changes, but many cannot. Blood pressure medicines can safely help most people control their blood pressures. These medicines are easy to take. Blood pressure medicines work in different ways to lower blood pressure. Some remove extra fluid and salt from the body to lower blood pressure. Others slow down the heartbeat or relax and widen blood vessels. Often, two or more medicines work better than one.
If your doctor prescribes medicines as a part of your treatment plan, keep up your healthy habits. This will help you better control your blood pressure. And continue to track your progress with your doctor – you shouldn't decide on your own to stop taking your medicines.
ACE inhibitors – This class of blood pressure medicines keeps your body from making angiotensin II, a hormone that normally causes blood vessels to narrow. ACE inhibitors prevent this, so blood pressure decreases.
Alpha blockers - Alpha blockers reduce nerve impulses that tighten blood vessels to allow blood to flow more freely, causing blood pressure to go down.
Alpha-beta blockers - Alpha-beta blockers reduce nerve impulses and slow the heartbeat.
Angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs) - ARBs are a newer blood pressure medicines that protect your blood vessels from angiotensin II so that blood vessels relax and widen.
Beta blockers - Beta blockers help the heart beat slower and with less force. As a result, the heart pumps less blood through the blood vessels, and blood pressure goes down.
Calcium channel blockers (CCBs) - CCBs keep calcium from entering the muscle cells of the heart and blood vessels to allow blood vessels to relax.
Diuretics - Sometimes called “water pills”, diuretics help the kidneys flush excess water and salt from your body. This lessens the amount of fluid in the blood, so that blood pressure reduces. Diuretics often are used with other high blood pressure medicines and sometimes combined into one pill.
Nervous system inhibitors – This type of blood pressure medicine increases nerve impulses from the brain to relax and widen blood vessels.
Vasodilators - Vasodilators relax the muscles in blood vessel walls.