Treatment for hypertension will likely include a combination of medication and lifestyle changes. A treatment plan will also include blood pressure monitoring.
Individuals who are not maintaining a healthy weight will want to look for ways to lose some, including diet and exercise. Most care plans will include a heart-healthy diet that includes less salt and saturated fat. Limiting alcohol intake is part of that diet, as well.
Most people need at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise six days a week. That can include brisk walking, bike riding, or swimming. Smokers will need to start a cessation program to quit.
For those unable to manage their blood pressure strictly with lifestyle changes, medication can help. There are different types of drug therapy available. Treatment can include one or a combination of drugs. Water pills are typically combined with another medication, such as a calcium channel blocker.
Thiazide diuretics, sometimes called water pills, eliminate sodium and water to reduce blood volume and lower blood pressure.
Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors block a chemical that causes blood vessels to narrow. Common ACE inhibitors include lisinopril and benazepril.
Angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARB) work by relaxing blood vessels. Common ARBs include candesartan and losartan.
Calcium Channel Blockers
Calcium channel blockers may either slow the heart rate to bring down blood pressure or relax the muscles in the wall of the blood vessels. Calcium channel blockers such as amlodipine and diltiazem are often for older individuals and people of African heritage that do not respond to ACE inhibitors by themselves.
There are less commonly used medications that a physician might add if a patient isn’t controlling their blood pressure with these choices. For instance, alpha and beta blockers work on the nerve impulses to blood vessels. Beta-blockers slow down the heartbeat and the force of it.
Finding the right drug therapy program for someone can take trial and error to see what medications have the most impact.
What is the first line of treatment for hypertension?
The first line of treatment is lifestyle changes—dietary, physical exercise, and weight loss. First-line medications would fall under four categories: ACE inhibitors, ARBs, calcium channel blockers, and thiazide diuretics.
What happens if hypertension is left untreated?
Left untreated, hypertension can cause serious medical problems. It can affect vision, impact the heart, and increase the risk of stroke and kidney failure.