Hypertension is an easily detected and usually controllable condition. However, there are too many misconceptions about hypertension treatment, the confused messages interrupt patients to follow treatment plans persistently, and affect their determination of changing the way they live, greatly put them at risk of serious cardiovascular complications. Like most health issues today, what we know about high blood pressure has better than before, and its treatment goal has updated too. Being a hypertensive patient, you should know some basic truths about hypertension treatment, they can help you control blood pressure with more aggressive and optimal measures, benefit your long-term health as well.
19. Can high blood pressure be cured?
With proper medication and lifestyle changes, hypertension can be managed properly, but it is hard to say that hypertension can be cured completely. High blood pressure is often a lifelong condition, in addition to dietary and lifestyle changes, you may need to take medication for the rest of your life.
Following your doctor's advice is critical, even if it means taking medication every day or quitting your favorite foods. By keeping the blood pressure at a safe level, you can greatly reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, kidney disease and vision problem, it also brings you a healthier and happier life.
20. Can lifestyle changes alone ˇ§cureˇ¨ high blood pressure?
Your blood pressure treatment plan depends on your stage of blood pressure and how healthy you are.
If you are otherwise healthy and only in prehypertension stage (120-139/80-89 mm Hg), you may be able to cure your hypertension with lifestyle changes alone. For an early stage hypertension, lifestyle modifications are usually recommended firstly. Some people can control their blood pressure with lifestyle changes alone, but many people can't, and they need medications for treatment. Even if patients are prescribed with medication, along with healthy life habits, better results can be achieved than taking medication alone.
21. Is the target blood pressure goal always below 140/90 mm Hg?
At any age, blood pressure of 140/90 mm Hg or higher is associated with a significantly risk of cardiovascular diseases, medical attention is warranted. This 140/90 recommendation is usually for otherwise healthy adults. If you have heart disease, diabetes, chronic kidney disease or other health problems, you may need to treat it more aggressively. For example, if you are overweight, have high cholesterol or diabetes, the target blood pressure goal may probably around 120/80 mm Hg or lower. If you are 80 years old and your blood pressure is very high, your doctor may set a target blood pressure goal that is slightly higher than 140/90 mm Hg.
Generally, your treatment goal depends on how healthy you are, and your risk of having cardiovascular disease.
22. The only way to control hypertension is with medication?
After diagnosing with hypertension, your doctor will work with you to determine the best way to lower your blood pressure. He will consider your blood pressure readings, age, body weight, activity level, and other risk factors, the treatment plan is aimed to reduce your blood pressure to a healthy level and keep it there. Medications can always meet that goal, however, even if you are prescribed with antihypertensive medication, you also need to make lifestyle changes. Only a comprehensive treatment plan can control your blood pressure effectively.
Under normal circumstance, a mild elevated blood pressure is suggested to change lifestyles first, after months of monitoring, and your blood pressure is still high, then your doctor will prescribe a set of medications to treat it. Even if in severe cases, healthy life habits can ensure the prescribed medication works better to control blood pressure, and will make a big difference in your quality of life.
23. I want to reduce my blood pressure asap?
If your blood pressure is 140/90 mm Hg or higher, you are likely prescribed with medication, in addition with lifestyle changes. The category of medication will depend on your stage of hypertension, and whether you have other health problems or not. Initially, you will begin with a low-dose, so as to reduce the blood pressure gradually and facilitate the body to adapt the change easily. In fact, it can be dangerous to lower blood pressure too rapidly, that may trigger heart attack or stroke.
Different patient can respond very differently to high blood pressure treatment, it takes time to find the right medication and does for your condition. Tell your doctor if you feel not well after taking medication, he can adjust the treatment. Don’t change or stop taking the medication without discussed with your doctor.
24. If my blood pressure readings come down to normal, can I skip my medication?
This is a common mistake that most hypertensive patients tend to make. If your blood pressure needs to be controlled with medication, you may have to take it for the rest of your life. Even if your blood pressure come down to normal, it is likely due to the medication effects, so you should keep on taking it at the same time every day. Stopping your medication can make your blood pressure fluctuate, which can also damage your body and increases your cardiovascular risks. It may lead to nausea, vomiting, dizziness and insomnia too.
Donˇ¦t stop or change your medication dosage or schedule without consulting with your doctor, as he knows better than you about the treatment.
25. Do I need to take my blood pressure medication for life?
Anti-hypertensive medications can only control blood pressure, they can't cure it. Once you stop taking the medication, your blood pressure will increase again. Diet and lifestyles such as salt intake, exercise, drinking and smoking can greatly influence your blood pressure. Making positive lifestyle changes can sometimes improve your blood pressure to the point that you donˇ¦t need medication, however, most people still require some sort of treatment for life.
It is possible that when your blood pressure has reduced to the targeted level and becomes stable, your doctor may consider cut your dose to that only requires for maintenance, but it is unlikely to stop the medication entirely. You should take the medication as long as instructed by your doctor.
26. Are blood pressure medications harmful and habit-forming?
It is true that you may take medication for the rest of your life, but you will not become ˇ§addicted toˇ¨ or ˇ§dependent onˇ¨ it. Blood pressure medications are not habit-forming, and they are only for keeping your blood pressure at a healthy level, so as to protect your organs and prevent some irreversible complications. Like any other medication, they may have side effects, but the benefits definitely outweigh side effects. You should ask your doctor about the side effects, how common they are and what to do when you notice. Report to your doctor regularly, he can switch the medication or change the dose or schedule to help you find the most effective combinations and with the fewest side effects.
Be patient, it takes time to develop an optimal treatment plan, as high blood pressure often has several underlying causes.
27. How often should I visit my doctor?
You need to visit your doctor on a regular basis, so as to monitor your progress and make adjustments to the treatment. For stage 1 hypertension (140-159/90-99 mm Hg) and otherwise healthy patients, the follow-up visits may be every month. For patients with other health problems or stage 2 hypertension (≥160/100 mm Hg), the follow-up visits are usually every two to four weeks.
During each visit, your doctor will check your blood pressure, ask about side effects, and discuss the progress you are making with lifestyle measures. Based on this information, your doctor can consider whether the treatment plan fits you or not.
Once your treatment plan becomes routine, blood pressure has reduced to the target level and stabilized, the follow-up visits will usually be every three to six months. Some patients with other health conditions (such as diabetes or heart disease) may need to visit their doctors more often.
28. What other medications should be taken with caution for hypertension?
While you are taking medication for hypertension, be sure it works effectively and safely. Since each type of hypertensive medication has possible side effects, you should ask about which type you are taking and also what side effects might occur. In addition, you should pay attention to the use of certain medications that may increase your blood pressure or interact with your blood pressure medication:
- Aspirin and NSAIDS (pain killers such as Ibuprofen and Naproxen)
- Cough and cold medications
- Weight loss medications
- Certain antidepressants like tranylcypromine or tricyclics
- Nasal decongestants
- Asthma products
- Eye products
- Birth control pills
Always read the labels on OTC medications, especially if you have blood pressure of 140/90 mm Hg or higher.
29. What supplements I should avoid when I am on blood pressure medication?
For hypertensive patients, no special pills, vitamins or drinks can substitute for doctorˇ¦s prescriptions and lifestyle modifications. Preliminary evidence may show some supplements are beneficial in lowering blood pressure, however, those ˇ§naturalˇ¨ products are not necessarily safe to use, always talk to your doctor before taking any OTC medication or supplement that claims to lower blood pressure. It is also easy to check the information online, so do your homework. They may not work as advertised, and may even interfere with your medication, change your bodily reactions and cause side effects. Some common herbal supplements that have found to affect blood pressure are ginseng, ginkgo, ephedra, liquorice root and bitter orange.
30. What to do if I miss a dose?
If you missed a morning dose, it is fine to take it at the lunchtime, but when the time is too long for example at late night, just skip it, and wait for the next morning to resume taking your medication as usual. Missing a single dose of blood pressure medication is usually not a problem, it is more important not to get off track about taking your medication.
You should take your hypertensive medication exactly as prescribed, and make it as a part of your daily routine. Any changing in your medication dosage or schedule may be dangerous. A regular dose can ensure healthy and stable blood pressure level, which can protect your body and prevent serious health consequences including heart attack, stroke and kidney disease.
31. One of my family members is taking a medication that has a good result, can I switch to it?
It is not advised to switch your medication just because you have read or heard about its effect from others. Also, donˇ¦t go from one doctor to another in looking for quick and miracle medications. People can respond very differently to the same medication, which may cause a serious side effect if itˇ¦s unfitted to you. Always discuss with your doctor before changing your medication, stick to one reliable doctor and follow through his instructions. If you are seeing more than one healthcare professional, take a list of medications with you whenever you visit each healthcare professional, to make sure all of them know your prescriptions very well.
Your doctor is the best person to decide your medication option.
32. How to help loved ones control blood pressure?
People with hypertension can take care themselves, but those who are in healthy relationships and have sufficient support are more likely to make lifestyle changes that need for blood pressure control. As a family member or friend of hypertensive patients, you should encourage your loved one to follow through the treatment plan, help monitor blood pressure level, and work together to stay active and eat healthy. In addition, a relaxing and comfortable environment is important, try to avoid any unpleasant conflicts if possible, just be nice and not to overdo the above.