What are my treatment options for hypertension?
The goal of hypertension treatment is to lower harmful high blood pressures and protect important organs, such as the brain, heart and kidneys. Treatment for hypertension has been associated with reductions in stroke, heart attack and heart failure. Treatment involves a combination of lifestyle changes, drug therapy and routine follow up as described below:
Lifestyle changes are a critical step in preventing and treating hypertension and includes the following:
- Losing weight if you are overweight or obese
- Quitting smoking
- Eating a healthy diet with more fruits and vegetables, low fat dairy, less saturated and total fat
- Reducing the amount of salt in your diet
- Getting regular aerobic exercise such as brisk walking for 30 minutes a day
- Limiting alcohol consumption to 2 drinks a day for men and 1 drink per day for women
Drug therapy involves several classes of drugs to manage hypertension used alone or in combination, which includes the following:
- ACE Inhibitors and ARBs: dilates (widens) the blood vessels to improve the amount of blood the heart pumps, which decreases the workload of your heart, decreasing blood pressure.
- Diuretics- also known as “water pills” cause the kidneys to get rid of extra water and s
- Beta Blockers- improves the hearts ability to relax, decreasing the production of harmful substances produced by the body in response to heart failure as well as slows the heart rate and decreases the blood pressure.
- Calcium channel blockers- affect the movement of calcium in the cells of the heart and blood vessels. This relaxes the blood vessels, increasing the supply of oxygen and blood to the heart, decreasing the workload of the heart, which in turn will decrease the blood pressure.
Follow up with your doctor is vital to closely monitor the effectiveness of drugs and therapy:
- After starting antihypertensive drug therapy, the patient should see their doctor at least once a month or until blood pressure goals have been reaching.
- The doctor should routinely check serum potassium if on diuretics as well as creatinine once or twice a year.
- After the blood pressure goal has been reached, the patient should see a doctor every three to 6 months, depending on other diagnoses as well such as heart failure.