High Blood Pressure: How is it Treated?

There is no cure for high blood pressure. But treatment as directed by a doctor can lower blood pressure that is too high. If it is mild, high blood pressure may sometimes be brought under control by making changes to a healthier lifestyle such as those listed in the next question.

How is high blood pressure treated?

If mild, high blood pressure may sometimes be brought under control by making changes to a healthier lifestyle such as losing excess weight , cutting down on fat and salt in your diet, limiting your alcohol intake to no more than two drinks a day for men and one drink a day for woman, and starting a regular exercise program approved by your doctor. However, medicines may also be needed to get your pressure under control. Many effective medicines are available to treat high blood pressure. Sometimes, a combination of different medicines may be needed. These medicines should be taken as ordered by your doctor, even if you are feeling fine, because high blood pressure is just as damaging even when it causes no symptoms. If you are a smoker, your doctor will advise you to stop. Smoking increases your risk of complications such as heart attacks or strokes.

How do I know what treatment is best for me?

Ask your doctor about the best treatment for you. Your treatment will be based on the results of your tests and physical examination and on your individual needs.

My medicine causes side effects. What should I do?

You should report any side effects, such as headaches, dizziness, tiredness, palpitations, ankle swelling, problems with your sex life, etc., to your doctor. The doctor may be able to change the dose of your medicine or order another medicine that may work better for you.

Will I need to follow a special diet?

If you are overweight, your doctor may want you to lose weight. Also, most doctors recommend a diet that is low in fat and salt as part of the treatment for patients with high blood pressure. Spices and herbs can be used instead of salt to add flavor to food. Other dietary changes that might help include:

  • eating more foods that have calcium, such as low-fat dairy products
  • eating more foods that have potassium, such as bananas, oranges, potatoes, tomatoes and greens.

Your doctor can refer you to a registered dietitian who will help you learn more about eating the right foods in the right amounts to help control your blood pressure. If you have kidney disease or diabetes you should not make changes in their diet without speaking to your doctor.

What else should I do to help control my blood pressure?

You can help yourself by doing the following:

  • have regular medical checkups
  • take all your medicines faithfully
  • follow your doctor's recommendations about diet and exercise
  • stop smoking, if you are a smoker
  • avoid drinking more than one ounce of alcohol a day
  • get your whole family involved in your care plan

Don't hesitate to talk to your doctor or to the health care team at your clinic if you have any questions or problems.

If you cooperate with your treatment plan, you can keep your blood pressure controlled and help to prevent serious complication.

If you would like more information, please contact us.

© 2014 National Kidney Foundation. All rights reserved. This material does not constitute medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. Please consult a physician for specific treatment recommendations.