Fourth Misconception About High Blood Pressure Is About Treatment
Give up your favorite foods. Take drugs with annoying side effects. These are some things you might fear when you think about high blood pressure treatment. It is true that it may take some time to develop a treatment plan that works best for you, because high blood pressure often has several underlying causes. In many cases, the specific cause of high blood pressure may not be evident.
Your doctor will work closely with you to determine which combination of treatments works to best control high blood pressure. Your treatment plan is likely to include the following elements:
The DASH eating plan. The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) plan includes eating less fat and saturated fat as well as eating more fresh fruits and vegetables and whole-grain foods. Limiting use of salt and alcohol can also help lower your high blood pressure. A dietitian can help you find ways to meet these goals without giving up your favorite foods or great flavor.
Weight Control. Being overweight increases your risk of developing high blood pressure. Following the DASH eating plan and getting regular exercise can help you lose weight. Ask your doctor to help you determine a goal. Your doctor can also refer you to other health care professionals for assistance in setting up a weight loss plan.
Decreasing the amount of alcohol you consume. Alcohol may increase your blood pressure, as well, especially if you are drinking too much. Cutting back or abstaining might be essential.
No smoking. Tobacco smoke can make blood pressure rise. It can also directly damage your heart and blood vessels. Talk with your doctor about ways to quit.
Medication. Your doctor is likely to prescribe medication to control your high blood pressure. It’s common to take more than one drug to treat high blood pressure. Your doctor may ask you to switch drugs or change the dosage until you find a combination that works best to control high blood pressure with the fewest side effects for you. Medications used to treat high blood pressure include:
Diuretics to reduce the amount of fluid in your blood by helping your body rid itself of extra sodium
ACE inhibitors, alpha-blockers, and calcium channel blockers to help keep your blood vessels from tightening
Beta-blockers to prevent your body from making the hormone adrenaline; adrenaline is a stress hormone that makes your heart beat harder and faster. It also makes your blood vessels tighten. All of this makes blood pressure higher. The medication slows your heart rate, decreasing your blood pressure.
Fifth Misconception About High Blood Pressure: Treatment Doesn’t Work
In fact, if you work with your doctor to develop a comprehensive program for managing your high blood pressure, that plan can work. To maximize the benefits of your plan, follow these steps:
Check your blood pressure as often as recommended by your doctor.
Follow your treatment plan consistently. Let your doctor know right away if you have problems with parts of the plan. Your doctor may refer you to other health care professionals who can help.
See your doctor as often as requested. Bring your blood pressure records to show your doctor how the plan is working.
Ask your doctor or pharmacist for information about medication side effects. Know when to call your doctor if there is a problem.
Reduce how much salt you take in.
Learning about high blood pressure and how it can harm your health is the first step in controlling this condition so you can remain healthy for years to come.
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