Hello. This is Hypertension Prevention Tuesdays! Today, we’ll talk about high blood pressure medications, what they do, and some of their side effects. High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a condition where the heart works harder than it normally should to pump blood throughout the body. The pressure of the blood in the blood vessels is higher than what it should be normally. High blood pressure medication is usually recommended by doctors to manage and control this condition. Although high blood pressure medication is given to individuals who need this to control and manage their elevated blood pressure, this high blood pressure treatment is usually accompanied by a diet low in fatty, salty and greasy foods and high on fibers, fruits and vegetables.
Many people need to take medicine in addition to making lifestyle changes to help keep their blood pressure at healthy levels. Read more about blood pressure medicines.
How do blood pressure medicines work?
Blood pressure medicines can work several different ways. Blood pressure medicines can keep blood pressure at a healthy level by:
- Causing your body to get rid of water, which decreases the amount of water and salt in your body to a healthy level
- Relaxing your blood vessels
- Making your heart beat with less force
- Blocking nerve activity that can restrict your blood vessels
Talk with your health care team about the best type of treatment for you. You may need to take more than one type of medicine to control your blood pressure. You can also talk to your health care team about how long it should take your blood pressure medicine to work.
It is important to take your blood pressure medicine exactly as your doctor tells you to. Do not stop taking your current medicine without talking to your doctor or pharmacist first. Stopping your blood pressure medicine without first talking to your health care team could lead to serious health consequences.
What are the benefits and risks of blood pressure medicines?
The benefits of blood pressure medicines are clear: Blood pressure medicines can help you keep your blood pressure at healthy levels and therefore greatly reduce your risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
In general, the risks of taking blood pressure medicines are low. However, all medicines have risks. Talk with your doctor or health care professional about the risks of high blood pressure medicines.
Do not stop taking your current medicine without talking to your doctor or health care professional first.
These types of high blood pressure medications are used to rid the body of excess amounts of fluid. The excess fluids are excreted through urination and does help to manage and control high blood pressure, but if diuretics do not work, other forms of medication may be combined with it or may take its place. Diuretics may have some undesirable side effects, and may cause dehydration, low salt or potassium levels, kidney injury. Certain diuretics may increase blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.
Angiotensin-Converting Enzymes Inhibitors (ACE-I)
This form of high blood pressure medication is best for those with hypertension and diabetes. ACE-I prevents constriction of blood vessels, lowers blood pressure, and lessens the energy the heart has to expend from beat to beat.
Beta-blockers are drugs that block the effects of adrenaline, the hormone that triggers your body’s fight-or-flight response when you’re stressed. This slows your heart rate and eases up on the force your heart squeezes with. Your blood pressure goes down because your heart isn’t working so hard. These medicines can also relax blood vessels so the blood flows better. These drugs can hide signs of low blood sugar. You’ll have to check your blood sugar more often when you have diabetes.
Almost all of the high blood pressure medications mentioned above have some side effects which may consist of a cough, dizzy spells, insomnia, low levels of potassium, low blood pressure, and many more. It is important to notify your prescribing doctor of any disturbing side effects so s/he might adjust the dose, change the high blood pressure medication, or do something to alleviate the side effect.
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I’m excited to talk about this topic today because not only do I truly believe that you have the power to reverse heart disease and lower high blood pressure to improve your health, but the science also agrees! You can adopt healthy lifestyle practices that improve your health and enrich your life, which can in turn improve the lives of those close to you. You have the power to break the cycle of these chronic diseases so that you can leave a legacy of health to your loved ones.
As you may already know, I use lifestyle medicine as the first line of treatment, before medications, to treat lifestyle-related chronic diseases. Lifestyle-related chronic diseases include diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and some cancers, just to name a few. Lifestyle practices, such as eating a whole-food plant-based diet and regular physical activity, can help you improve blood pressure and reverse heart disease. In certain cases, these approaches may even outperform pharmaceutical therapy. But I always tell my patients that conventional medications may be appropriate at this time to prevent catastrophic illness, but over time, you can work to make the necessary lifestyle changes to possibly reduce and/or eliminate medications. Please remember to always consult your physician for your particular needs and circumstances prior to making any decisions whatsoever.
Tools to Improve Heart Health
Blood Pressure Monitoring
Since weight management is very important in blood pressure control, I recommend that you be mindful of your weight and its fluctuations, and that you monitor your weight AT LEAST on a weekly basis. I recommend a scale that includes a body composition monitor.
Remember, healthy lifestyle behaviors–like eating a whole-foods plant-based diet that is low in sodium, being physically active, and stress management are the best ways to prevent and control high blood pressure. Please talk with your doctor about any complementary health approaches, including supplements, you use.
Let me know what you think in the comment section below.
PS. I am always asked what tools and resources I recommend to help you reach YOUR health goals. Here is the ever-growing, always updated list for you.
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