What do you do when your doctor finally diagnoses you with hypertension? Your doctor would have explained your ideal blood pressure and how to get you there.
According to Mayo clinic the treatment goals of hypertension are the following:
- 140/90 mmHg or lower-for a healthy adult
- 130/80 mmHg or lower-for those suffering from chronic kidney disease, coronary artery disease and diabetes
- 120/80 mm Hg or lower – for those with heart conditions such as left ventricular dysfunction or heart failure when the heart doesn’t pump well or for those with severe chronic kidney disease
According to doctors 120/80 mm Hg or lower is ideally the goal. For the elderly who are 80 years old and above doctors may set a goal of above 140/90 mmHg.
A healthy lifestyle can help you in lowering high blood pressure and maintaining it. Nevertheless, it may not be enough and the need for high blood pressure medications may arise.
High Blood Pressure Medications
- Thiazide diuretics-These medications are first line treatment for hypertension. They act on the kidneys and eliminate sodium and water from your body reducing blood volume. This way, they lower high blood pressure.
- Beta blockers-They open blood vessels, and make the heart beat slower and with lesser force. Beta blockers reduce the work of the heart and decrease blood pressure. Usually, beta blockers are combined with thiazide diuretic for effectiveness in the elderly.
- Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors- ACE inhibitors work by blocking the formation of a natural chemical that narrows blood vessels. Doing so helps the blood vessels relax and consequently lowers blood pressure.
- Angiotensin II receptor blockers- They block the action of a natural chemical, an enzyme, that narrows blood vessels. As such, it relaxes the blood vessels and helps in hypertension.
- Calcium channel blockers- These medications lower blood pressure by relaxing the muscles of blood vessels and slow heart rate. They work better for older adults. It is advisable for people on this medication to avoid grapefruit. Grapefruit increases blood levels of calcium channel blockers and may cause undesirable side effects. Tell your doctor if you’re a grapefruit lover.
- Renin inhibitors -They decrease the production of renin. Your kidneys produce renin, an enzyme that starts a sequence of steps that cause a rise in blood pressure. Aliskiren, a renin inhibitor, reduces the effect of renin to begin this sequence and doing so lowers blood pressure.
- Alpha blockers-These medications decrease nerve impulses to blood vessels which in turn decrease natural chemicals from narrowing blood vessels. Consequently, they reduce high blood pressure.
- Alpha-beta blockers –Apart from decreasing the transmission of nerve impulses to blood vessels, alpha-beta blockers lower heartbeat. As a result, there is a decreased amount of blood to be pumped through blood vessels and helps in hypertension.
- Central-acting agents-These medications work at on the brain to decrease blood pressure. They prevent the brain from communicating to the nervous system an increase in heart rate and narrowing of blood vessels.
- Vasodilators- Vasodilators work directly on the muscles in the walls of arteries, preventing the muscles from tightening and the arteries from narrowing. This action of vasodilators lowers blood pressure.
Your health care provider has the best judgment in customising an anti-hypertensive regimen. When going for regular visits, write down questions and any adverse effects you may be experiencing Feel free to discuss them with your doctor.
Above all, tell your doctor what’s working best for you. This can help you realise your goals in lowering your blood pressure, and maintaining it.
The Role of Lifestyle, Home Remedies and Alternative Medicine in Managing Hypertension
Lifestyle changes have an important impact in controlling high blood pressure and maintaining normal blood pressure. Coupled with the anti-hypertensive regimen your doctor has prescribed for you, lifestyle changes, some home remedies and alternative medicines can help you manage your hypertension.
Here are important lifestyle factors and home remedies that can help:
- Diet- Eat lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy foods. Decrease your intake of salt, saturated and total fats. Potassium can help prevent and control hypertension so include potassium rich foods in your diet.
For people 51 years old and above, Mayo clinic recommends 1,500 milligrams of sodium a day and at any age if you have hypertension, chronic kidney disease or diabetes. Healthy people can have 2,300 mg or less daily. Sodium is found like in processed foods, canned or frozen foods.
These guidelines are part of the Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension (DASH) being promoted by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute a part of the National Institutes of Health, a United States Government health organization.
- Lose those excess pounds/maintain a healthy weight- If you have normal weight, maintain it. If you’re obese or overweight try portion control to lose weight. Experts say that among obese individuals, 5 pounds or 2.3 kilograms can lower blood pressure.
- Be physically active everyday- Being active regularly helps a lot in lowering high blood pressure. At least 30 minutes of physical activity every day can help you lower your weight and blood pressure.
- Go easy on alcohol- Alcohol raises blood pressure even in healthy people. If you opt to drink alcohol, do so moderately. A drink a day for women and for those over 65 years old is fine. For men, two drinks a day are advisable.
- Quit smoking/ don’t start smoking- Tobacco damages the walls of your blood vessels and hardens your arteries. If you want to quit ask the help of your health care provider.
- Learn effective ways to manage stress- Stress is a reality in daily life. It cannot always be avoided but managing and coping utilizing healthy techniques can go a long way in reducing stress. Muscle relaxation techniques and deep breathing can help. Adequate sleep can help, too.
- Learn to know how to take your blood pressure reading and monitor your blood pressure at home- Regularly monitoring your blood pressure makes you aware if your medications are working or not. Also, keeping tab on your blood pressure alerts you to side effects of high blood pressure medications which you can relate to your doctor.
- Learn to relax- Do slow deep breathing to help you relax. Yoga and meditation can reduce your stress level and temporarily helps in lowering blood pressure levels.
- Most of all have a positive outlook on life. Learn to take problems or adversities in stride. Cultivate a hobby that can give you satisfying and happy moments. Enjoy the company of your family and friends.
Scientifically Proven High Blood Pressure Supplements
A word of caution, when you opt to take supplements those sourced from natural form or food is best. But those in capsule form can help, too. It is very important to inform your doctor if you are on these high blood pressure natural remedies. Some may have interactions with high blood pressure medications you are currently taking.
Mayo clinic recommends the following :
- Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)
- Blond psyllium
- Cod-liver oil
- Coenzyme Q10
- Omega-3 fatty acids
Healthy lifestyles, medications coupled with proven supplements can help you in the long term. Hypertension is a chronic disease and managing high blood pressure entails a lifetime commitment.