Hypertension - medicines
Treating high blood pressure will help prevent problems such as heart disease, stroke, loss of eyesight, chronic kidney disease, and other blood vessel diseases.
You may need to take medicines to lower your blood pressure if lifestyle changes are not enough to bring your blood pressure to the target level.
WHEN ARE MEDICINES FOR HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE USED
Most of the time, your health care provider will try lifestyle changes first and check your BP two or more times.
If your blood pressure is 120/80 to 129/80 mm Hg, you have elevated blood pressure.
If your blood pressure is equal to or higher than 130/80 but lower than 140/90 mm Hg, you have Stage 1 high blood pressure. When thinking about the best treatment, you and your provider must consider:
If your blood pressure is equal to or higher than 140/90 mm Hg, you have Stage 2 high blood pressure. Your provider will most likely recommend that you take medicines and recommend lifestyle changes.
Before making a final diagnosis of either elevated blood pressure or high blood pressure, your provider should ask you to have your blood pressure measured at home, at your pharmacy, or somewhere else besides their office or a hospital.
If you have a higher risk for heart disease, diabetes, heart problems, or a history of a stroke, medicines may be started at lower blood pressure reading. The most commonly used blood pressure targets for people with these medical problems are below 130/80.
MEDICINES FOR HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE
Most of the time, only a single drug will be used at first. Two drugs may be started if you have stage 2 high blood pressure.
Several types of medicine are used to treat high blood pressure. Your provider will decide which type of medicine is right for you. You may need to take more than one type.
Each type of blood pressure medicine listed below comes in different brand and generic names.
One or more of these blood pressure medicines are often used to treat high blood pressure:
Blood pressure medicines that are not used as often include:
SIDE EFFECTS OF BLOOD PRESSURE MEDICINES
Most blood pressure medicines are easy to take, but all medicines have side effects. Most of these are mild and may go away over time.
Some common side effects of high blood pressure medicines include:
Tell your provider as soon as possible if you have side effects or the side effects are causing you problems. Most of the time, making changes to the dose of medicine or when you take it can help reduce side effects.
Never change the dose or stop taking a medicine on your own. Always talk to your provider first.
Taking more than one medicine may change how your body absorbs or uses a drug. Vitamins or supplements, different foods, or alcohol may also change how a drug acts in your body.
Always ask your provider whether you need to avoid any foods, drinks, vitamins or supplements, or any other medicines while you are taking blood pressure medicine.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Blood pressure medicines. www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/medicines.htm. Updated January 23, 2020. Accessed November 7, 2021.
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Whelton PK, Carey RM, Aronow WS, et al. 2017 ACC/AHA/AAPA/ABC/ACPM/AGS/APhA/ASH/ASPC/NMA/PCNA guideline for the prevention, detection, evaluation, and management of high blood pressure in adults: a report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Clinical Practice Guidelines. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2018;71(19):e127-e248. PMID: 29146535 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29146535/.
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Review Date: 7/17/2021
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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