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Blood Pressure

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Dozens of high blood pressure medications (antihypertensives) are available, each with pros and cons. Depending on how high your blood pressure is, your doctor may prescribe one or more high blood pressure medications to treat your condition. For everyone who has high blood pressure or is at risk of developing high blood pressure, lifestyle changes can help keep your numbers under control. Before beginning blood pressure treatment, it's a good idea to understand the options available to you.

Lifestyle changes


Whether you're on the road to developing high blood pressure (prehypertension) or you already have high blood pressure (hypertension), you can benefit from lifestyle changes that can lower your blood pressure. People who have prehypertension have a systolic pressure (top number) ranging from 120 to 139 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) or a diastolic pressure (bottom number) ranging from 80 to 89 mm Hg.

Even if your doctor prescribes medications to control your blood pressure, he or she will likely recommend you make lifestyle changes as well. Lifestyle changes can reduce or eliminate your need for medications to control your blood pressure. To make these changes:

  • Don't smoke
  • Eat a healthy diet, focusing on fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products, and especially, control the salt in your diet
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Exercise by getting 30 minutes of moderate activity — even if you need to break up your activity into three 10-minute sessions — on most days of the week
  • Limit the amount of alcohol you drink — For healthy adults, that means up to one drink a day for women of all ages and men older than age 65, and up to two drinks a day for men age 65 and younger.

You probably won't need to take high blood pressure medications if you have prehypertension and are otherwise healthy. However, if you have prehypertension and diabetes, kidney disease or heart disease, your doctor might prescribe medications to lower your blood pressure to a more desirable level.