Treatment for high blood pressure can help control the condition and prevent or delay related health problems. The goal is to get blood pressure below the high range. For otherwise healthy adults, that means getting and keeping blood pressure under 140/90. For those with diabetes or chronic kidney disease, the goal is blood pressure under 130/80.
A healthy lifestyle is the first line of defense against high blood pressure. Habits that help control blood pressure include:
- Eating a healthy diet
- Staying physically active
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Avoiding excessive alcohol
- Quitting smoking and avoiding secondhand smoke
- Managing stress
- Eating less salt
- Limiting caffeine
- Monitoring blood pressure at home
- Getting support from family and friends
High Blood Pressure Drugs
Some people find that lifestyle changes alone are enough to tame their high blood pressure, but most also take medication to treat their condition. Today there are numerous different types of blood pressure medication with different modes of action. If one doesn't lower blood pressure enough, another might do the job, and the combination of two or more drugs often boosts the effectiveness even more.
Ongoing Medical Care
To make the most of your treatment, it's vital to get periodic medical checkups and blood pressure tests. Regular checkups allow your doctor to monitor how well treatment is going and make any necessary adjustments to your treatment plan. If your blood pressure starts inching back up, your doctor can respond promptly. Doctor visits also give you an opportunity to ask questions and bring up any concerns.
Treatment for Specific Situations
Additional treatment options may be needed in certain situations.
Resistant hypertension refers to blood pressure that remains high after trying at least three different types of blood pressure medication, including a diuretic. Someone whose high blood pressure is controlled, but only by taking four different kinds of medication, is also considered to have resistant hypertension. Even such hard-to-treat cases can often be managed successfully in time. The doctor might prescribe a different medication, dose, or drug combination. Or the doctor might recommend more aggressive lifestyle changes.
Secondary hypertension is high blood pressure that is directly caused by another health problem or drug side effect. Once the root cause is diagnosed and treated, blood pressure often drops substantially or even goes back to normal.
Treatment of Children and Teens
The first-line treatment for children and teens with high blood pressure is a healthy lifestyle, including a balanced diet, regular exercise, and weight loss for those who are overweight or obese. When necessary, children may also take the same blood pressure medications as adults, but at downsized doses. For children with secondary hypertension, blood pressure often returns to normal once the underlying condition is treated.