High blood pressure
Simple lifestyle changes can often help reduce high blood pressure (hypertension), although some people may need to take medication as well.
Your GP can advise you about changes you can make to your lifestyle and discuss whether they think you would benefit from medication.
This page covers:
When treatment is recommended
Everyone with high blood pressure is advised to make the healthy lifestyle changes outlined below.
Whether medication is recommended depends on your blood pressure reading and your risk of developing problems such as heart attacks or strokes .
Your doctor will carry out some blood and urine tests, and ask questions about your health todetermine your risk ofother problems:
The various treatments for high blood pressure are outlined below. You can also read a summary of the pros and cons of the treatments for high blood pressure , allowing you to compare your treatment options.
Below are some changes you could make to your lifestyle to reduce high blood pressure. Some of these will lower your blood pressure in a matter of weeks, while others may take longer.
You can take these steps today, regardless of whether or not you're taking blood pressure medication. In fact, by making these changes early on you may be able to avoid needing medication.
Many people need to take a combination of different medicines.
The medication recommended for you at first will depend on your age and ethnicity:
You may need to take blood pressure medication for the rest of your life. But your doctor might be able to reduce or stop your treatment if your blood pressure stays under control for several years.
It's really important to take your medications as directed. If you miss doses, it won't work as effectively. The medication won't necessarily make you feel any different, but this doesn't mean it's not working.
Medications used to treat high blood pressure can have side effects, but most people don't experience any. If you do, changing medication will often help.
Common blood pressure medications are described below.
Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors reduce blood pressure by relaxing your blood vessels.
Common examples are enalapril, lisinopril, perindopril and ramipril.
The most common side effect is a persistent dry cough . Other possible side effects include headaches , dizziness and a rash.
Find out more about ACE inhibitors .
ARBs work in a similar way to ACE inhibitors. They're often recommended if ACE inhibitors cause troublesome side effects.
Common examples are candesartan, irbesartan, losartan, valsartan and olmesartan.
Possible side effects includedizziness, headaches, and cold or flu -like symptoms.
Find out more about ARBs .
Calcium channel blockers reduce blood pressure by widening your blood vessels.
Common examples are amlodipine, felodipine and nifedipine. Other medicines such as diltiazem and verapamil are also available.
Possible side effects include headaches, swollen ankles and constipation .
Drinking grapefruit juice while taking some calcium channel blockers can increase your risk of side effects.
Find out more about calcium channel blockers .
Sometimes known as water pills, diuretics work by flushing excess water and salt from the body through urine. They're often used if calcium channel blockers cause troublesome side effects.
Common examples are indapamide and bendroflumethiazide.
Possible side effects include dizziness when standing up, increased thirst, needing to go to the toilet frequently, and a rash.
Low potassium level (hypokalaemia) and low sodium level (hyponatraemia) may also be seen after long-term use.
Find out more about thiazide diuretics.
Beta-blockers can reduce blood pressureby making your heart beat more slowly and with less force.
They used to be a popular treatment for high blood pressure, but now only tend to be used when other treatments haven't worked.
This is because beta-blockers are considered less effective than other blood pressure medications.
Common examples are atenolol and bisoprolol.
Possible side effects include dizziness, headaches, tiredness, and cold hands and feet.
Find out more about beta-blockers.
High blood pressure, or hypertension, rarely has noticeable symptoms. But if untreated, it increases your risk of serious problems such as heart attacks and strokes. If your blood pressure is too high, it puts extra strain on your blood vessels, heart and other organs, such as the brain, kidneys and eyes.
In most cases, it's not clear exactly what causes high blood pressure (hypertension). But there are several things that can increase your risk. In about 1 in 20 cases, high blood pressure occurs as the result of an underlying condition, medication or drug.
High blood pressure (hypertension) doesn't usually have any symptoms, so the only way to find out if you have it is to get your blood pressure checked. Healthy adults aged over 40 should have their blood pressure checked at least once every five years. Blood pressure tests can also be carried out at home using your own digital blood pressure monitor.
Simple lifestyle changes can often help reduce high blood pressure (hypertension), although some people may need to take medication as well. Your GP can advise you about changes you can make to your lifestyle and discuss whether they think you would benefit from medication.
High blood pressure can often be prevented or reduced by eating healthily, maintaining a healthy weight, drinking alcohol in moderation, not smoking and regular exercise can also help you lose weight, which will also help lower your blood pressure,
Andy Jones liked to eat a lot of salt with his food. Whatever he ate, whether it was a Chinese takeaway or fish and chips, Andy would always add plenty of seasoning which had raised his blood pressure to dangerous levels. High blood pressure caused his arteries to fur up and put extra strain on his heart.