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 attacksor strokes.
Your doctorwill carry out some blood and urine tests, and ask questions about your health todetermine your risk ofother problems:
The various treatments forhigh blood pressureare 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 whetheror 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. Butyour doctor might be able to reduce or stop your treatment if your blood pressure stays under control for several years.
It's really importantto 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. Ifyou 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 examplesareenalapril, 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 aboutACE 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, andcold or flu-like symptoms.
Find out more aboutARBs.
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 aboutcalcium channel blockers.
Sometimes known as water pills, diuretics work by flushing excess water and salt from the body through urine. They're oftenused 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 aboutthiazide 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 effectivethan other blood pressure medications.
Common examplesareatenolol and bisoprolol.
Possible side effects include dizziness, headaches, tiredness, and cold hands and feet.
Find out more aboutbeta-blockers.
Find everything you need to know about high blood pressure (hypertension), including causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment, with links to other useful resources.
Find out what can increase your risk of high blood pressure and what the known underlying causes are.
Find out when you should get your blood pressure tested, where you can get tested, and what the test involves.
Read about the main treatments for high blood pressure, including lifestyle changes and medication.
Find out about the lifestyle changes you can make to prevent and reduce high blood pressure.
Read Andy Jones' story about his diagnosis and treatment for high blood pressure.