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This information was reviewed and approved by Andrew M. Freeman, MD, FACC, FACP (8/1/2019).

High blood pressure treatment includes living a healthy lifestyle and medications.


Heart-Healthy Lifestyle Changes to Reduce High Blood Pressure

These lifestyle changes can reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and more, while helping you feel better and enjoy a better quality of life. 

  • Know your numbers: blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, etc., are all important numbers to know and watch.

  • Food: Eat a well-balanced diet that limits or avoids salt, high fat and processed foods. A diet that limits animal products, and is more whole-food and plant-based has been proven to not only lower blood pressure, but also reduce overall heart disease risk.

  • Drink: Stay hydrated, and limit alcohol consumption.

  • Exercise: Take a 30-minute brisk walk daily five days a week (or more) to improve and maintain heart health. The goal is to be mildly short of breath (i.e., challenged) with exercise. Exercise is your best medicine for reducing blood pressure and avoiding heart disease. Be sure to talk with your doctor about developing an exercise plan to meet your health needs.

  • Relax: Reduce and manage stress with exercise, breathing techniques, yoga or meditation.
     Remember, the medical word for high blood pressure is HYPER-tension: Too much tension: Spend 30 minutes a day letting go of as much stress as is possible.

  • Weight: Get to and maintain a healthy weight to help take strain off your heart. Losing just a few pounds can significantly reduce blood pressure.

  • Smoking: Quit smoking. This is one of the most important lifestyle changes that can improve your health almost immediately.

  • Medications: Follow your doctor’s medication treatment plan consistently.


Types of Hypertension Medications

There are many different types of high blood pressure medications. Your doctor will prescribe what is best for you. It’s important to take your medication as prescribed. Don’t stop or change the dose or frequency of the medicine without talking with your doctor. Remember to report all side effects that you experience. 

  • ACE inhibitors help the blood vessels relax and open up, which lowers blood pressure.

  • Alpha-2 receptor agonists decrease adrenaline production in the involuntary nervous system, which lowers blood pressure.

  • Alpha blockers reduce resistance in the arteries and relax the muscle tone of the vascular walls.

  • Angiotensin II receptor blockers block angiotensin, a chemical in the body that narrows arteries, to keep the blood vessels open and reduce blood pressure.

  • Beta blockers reduce the heart rate, how hard the heart works and how much blood the heart pumps to lower blood pressure.

  • Calcium channel blockers prevent calcium from entering the smooth muscle cells of the heart to relax and open up narrowed blood vessels, and to reduce heart rate and blood pressure.

  • Central agonists decrease tensing and contractions in the blood vessels to reduce blood pressure.

  • Diuretics help the body remove excess sodium (salt) and water to help control blood pressure.

  • Peripheral adrenergic inhibitors block neurotransmitters in the brain from sending a message to the heart muscle telling it to constrict (have a heart attack).

  • Vasodilators relax and widen the walls of the blood vessels so blood flows through better.


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