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September 2023

Getting the Most from Your Blood Pressure Medicine

Learning you have high blood pressure can come as a surprise. After all, the condition usually has no symptoms. But once you’ve been diagnosed, taking steps to control it can protect your heart—and your health.

A heart-smart lifestyle, which includes eating less sodium and exercising, serves as your first line of defense. But sometimes, habits alone aren’t enough to keep your numbers in check. In these cases, your healthcare provider may call in reinforcements, in the form of blood pressure medicines.

These medicines can help reduce the force with which your blood pushes against your artery walls. By doing so, they lower your risk for a wide range of complications, including stroke, heart attack, dementia, and blindness.

Fine-tuning your treatment

There are several medicines that work in different ways to control blood pressure. For example:

  • ACE inhibitors and ARBs keep blood vessels from narrowing.

  • Beta blockers make your heart beat slower and less forcefully.

  • Diuretics remove water and salt from your body, which lowers the amount of fluid in your blood.

  • Calcium channel blockers relax blood vessels.

Your provider might prescribe one or more of these drugs. Sometimes, it takes a little time to get the blend, and dosage, just right.

Many people have no side effects on these treatments. However, some may develop:

  • Headaches

  • Stomach problems

  • Dizziness

  • Swollen legs and feet

You don’t have to simply cope with these problems. Talk with your healthcare provider if you have unpleasant side effects. They might change your prescriptions or adjust your dose.

Play an active role in treatment

Once you’re prescribed blood pressure medicines:

  • Don’t stop taking them without talking with your provider, even if you have side effects, your numbers improve, or you feel fine. Stopping suddenly could cause serious health problems.

  • Take them at the same time every day. Tie them to another part of your routine—for instance, before brushing your teeth or at breakfast.

  • Refill your prescription before it runs out. Bring plenty of doses with you when traveling.

  • Reach out to your provider or pharmacist if you have any questions or concerns about your treatment.

Finally, continue healthy habits, including eating fruits and vegetables, managing stress, and exercising. These changes may help lower the amount of medicine you need and improve your overall health.





Online Medical Reviewer: Brian McDonough, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Ray Turley BSN, RN
Date Last Reviewed: 4/1/2023
© 2000-2024 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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