The management of hypertension includes lifestyle changes and the use of medications. Proper treatment of high blood pressure can add years to a person's life. Controlling blood pressure with medications can decrease the risk of stroke and heart disease.
Medications used to lower blood pressure include diuretics (e.g., hydrochlorothiazide*), beta-blockers (e.g., atenolol, metoprolol), ACE inhibitors (e.g., ramipril, enalapril, lisinopril), calcium channel blockers (e.g., nifedipine, amlodipine), angiotensin II receptor blockers (e.g., losartan, valsartan), and direct renin inhibitors (e.g., aliskiren).
People who have other risk factors, especially those who have diabetes or have already suffered heart damage, may be started on medications even if their blood pressure is below "official" hypertensive levels.
In most cases, the goal of treatment is to bring down the systolic pressure to less than 140 mm Hg and the diastolic pressure to less than 90 mm Hg. For people with diabetes, target blood pressure goals are lower (e.g., less than 130/80 mm Hg). Your doctor will determine the most appropriate goal for you.
To prevent hypertension and heart disease, here are some healthy lifestyle tips:
• limit your alcohol intake to:
i) for women, no more than 2 drinks per day (or no more than 3 drinks on special occasions) to a maximum of 10 drinks per week
ii) for men, no more than 3 drinks per day (or no more than 4 drinks on special occasions) to a maximum of 15 drinks per week
• cut down on your salt consumption (less than 2000 mg per day from all sources)
• eat more fruits, vegetables, grains, and fibre
• get regular physical activity – at least 150 minutes (2 and a half hours) of physical activity per week in sessions of at least 10 minutes
• lose weight (attain a healthy BMI [body mass index])
• stop smoking
It is important for people to know their blood pressure in mm Hg and the importance of keeping it controlled. The evidence suggests that even a small increase in blood pressure can cause a significant change in life expectancy.
*All medications have both common (generic) and brand names. The brand name is what a specific manufacturer calls the product (e.g., Tylenol®). The common name is the medical name for the medication (e.g., acetaminophen).
A medication may have many brand names, but only one common name. This article lists medications by their common names. For information on a given medication, check our Drug Information database. For more information on brand names, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.
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