If your blood pressure is slightly higher than the ideal level of 120/80mmHg, it’s likely that your doctor will advise you to make simple lifestyle changes to help reduce it. If your blood pressure sits above the indicator for hypertension, which stands at 140/90mmHg, and your doctor thinks you’re at risk of developing heart disease in the next ten years, you’ll be prescribed medication and advised to change your lifestyle to help lower your high blood pressure.
The first line of treatment for hypertension is to recommended preventative lifestyle and dietary changes, physical exercise, and weight loss. These have all been shown to significantly reduce blood pressure in people with hypertension. Two out of five people can successfully lower their blood pressure by making adjustments to their lifestyle. Their potential effectiveness is similar to and at times exceeds a single medication. If hypertension is high enough to justify immediate use of medications, lifestyle changes are still recommended in conjunction with medication.
Several classes of medications, collectively referred to as antihypertensive drugs, are available for treating hypertension. Usually hypertensive medications are introduced at low doses. The dose may be gradually increased if needed. A second or even a third drug may be added to achieve good blood pressure control. Any drug treatment for hypertension needs to be monitored carefully by your doctor. You should never alter the dose of your hypertension medication or stop taking it without consulting with your doctor. Medications don’t cure the condition and most of the people who need to take antihypertensive drugs will do so for the rest of their lives.
Effective lifestyle modification may lower blood pressure as much as an individual antihypertensive drug. Combinations of two or more lifestyle modifications can achieve even better results. Some healthy lifestyle choices include:
- Maintain your weight within the healthy range.
- Eat a high-fibre, low-fat and low-salt diet.
- Give up smoking.
- Limit alcohol consumption.
- Exercise regularly.