If you’ve been told that you have hypertension (high blood pressure), it’s important to understand what blood pressure is and what you can do to lower it.
What is blood pressure?
Blood pressure is the force of the blood against the inner walls of the arteries. It is measured in millimeters of mercury, and written as two numbers with a slash between them, such as 110/70. The top number is the systolic blood pressure, the force of the blood pushing against the arterial walls when the heart pumps. The bottom number represents the diastolic blood pressure. This is the force of the blood pressing against the arterial walls between heart beats.
What is a normal blood pressure?
Normal blood pressure in an adult is below 120/80. The following chart is a guide for determining if your blood pressure is considered too high:
|Prehypertension||Top number is 120-129 and bottom number is less than 80|
|High blood pressure stage 1||Top number is 130-139 or bottom number is 80-89|
|High blood pressure stage 2||Top number is 140+ or bottom number is 90+|
|Hypertensive crisis||Top number is 180+ and/or bottom number is 120+|
So, when your doctor says to lower your blood pressure, below 120/80 is the ideal you’re striving for. If you’re ever in hypertensive crisis, get to the nearest emergency room or call your on-call physician or primary care provider.
Are blood pressure and weight related?
High blood pressure is often associated with overweight and obesity. Overweight is defined as a body mass index (BMI) of between 25 and 30. Obesity is defined as a BMI of over 30. The BMI is calculated by body weight and height. The easiest way to find it is to visit a BMI calculator and plug in your numbers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a calculator at its website.
If your BMI is 25 or over, it is time to begin a healthful diet with lots of veggies and fruits, and little or no refined sugar. Keep portion sizes down. Physical activity not only helps with weight loss, but helps lower blood pressure directly. Walking at a casual pace requires no training or special equipment, and burns about 200 calories per hour.
What about medications for hypertension?
If needed, the next step to controlling blood pressure is seeking medical care. Blood pressure lowering medications fall into the following classifications:
Diuretics help the kidneys expel larger quantities of urine, lowering the amount of blood in the blood vessels and putting less strain on the heart.
- Esidrix (hydrochlorothiazide)
- Lasix (furosemide)
- Bumex (bumetanide)
- Demadex (torsemide)
- Zaroxolyn (metolazone)
- Aldactone (spironolactone)
Beta blockers relax the heart muscle, making contractions less forceful.
- Sectral (acebutolol)
- Tenormin (atenolol)
- Kerlone (betaxolol)
- Zebeta (bisoprolol)
- Cartrol (carteolol)
- Coreg (carvedilol)
- Normodyne (labetalol)
- Lopressor (metoprolol)
Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors relax blood vessels, allowing freer blood flow.
- Lotensin (benazepril)
- Capoten (captopril)
- Vasotec (enalapril)
- Monopril (fosinopril)
- Zestril (lisinopril)
- Univasc (moexipril)
- Aceon (perindopril)
- Accupril (quinapril)
- Altace (ramipril)
Angiotensin II receptor blockers enlarge blood vessels, reducing blood pressure.
- Edarbi (azilsartan)
- Atacand (candesartan)
- Avapro (irbesartan)
- Cozaar (losartan)
- Benicar (olmesartan)
- Micardis (telmisartan)
- Diovan (valsartan)
Calcium channel blockers lower calcium entry into heart and blood vessels, causing less forceful contractions and relaxation of blood vessels.
- Norvasc (amlodipine)
- Cardizem (diltiazem)
- Plendil (felodipine)
- Dynacirc (isradipine)
- Procardia (nifedipine)
- Sular (nisoldipine)
- Calan (verapamil)
How can I get a prescription for high blood pressure medicine?
The above medications are all available with a prescription from a physician or other licensed prescriber.
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