If you have high blood pressure, your doctor may suggest making some lifestyle changes to improve your numbers. These could include:
- Staying at a healthy weight
- Quitting smoking
- Reducing your salt and alcohol intake
- Getting active
These changes can also reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, and other conditions.
Your doctor may also give you new medicine to help lower blood pressure. Many of these meds can be good for your overall health, too. Research shows that ACE inhibitors, for example, may cut the risk of heart attacks and kidney problems, especially in people with diabetes. Still, it’s normal to feel worried when you start a new medicine. When you understand what you are taking, it’s easier to feel confident.
The most common high blood pressure meds
There are a few different types of blood pressure meds available, but your initial treatment is likely to include one of these:
- Diuretics. Also known as “water pills.” These drugs flush excess water and sodium from your body. They also open up your blood vessels so blood can flow more easily.
- Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs), and calcium channel blockers. These drugs work by relaxing blood vessels, which helps lower blood pressure.
Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor any questions about the medications you are taking.
Managing your blood pressure meds
Here are six things you can do to make sure your meds are safe and effective.
- Always discuss your meds with your doctor or pharmacist. They will help you understand how your meds work, and how to take them. You should never feel embarrassed to ask questions. Is cost a concern? Your doctor or pharmacist can also give you advice on what other options are available.
- Make your doctor aware of all the meds you are taking. Tell your doctor about all the prescriptions, over-the-counter meds, vitamins, and supplements you’re taking. Other pills can affect your blood pressure treatment. Be sure to mention if you’re pregnant or trying to conceive. That might impact the doctor’s decision about which meds to prescribe.
- Follow the instructions. Life gets busy, and it can be easy to forget to take pills. But it’s important to take your meds exactly as prescribed. This will make them work as safely and effectively as possible. Try to make it part of your routine. Think you might run out during an upcoming vacation or hectic few weeks? Get a refill ahead of time.
- Be patient! It’s natural to want to see quick results. But, it can take time to find the right dose. Track your progress and keep a note of any side effects so you can discuss your treatment plan with your doctor or Livongo expert coach. Your dose may be lowered over time.
- Don’t adjust your dose on your own. If you suddenly feel unwell, the best thing to do is speak to your doctor immediately. Don’t stop taking your medication unless he or she tells you to. Always stick to your prescription until the doctor tells you otherwise.
- Enjoy healthy habits. Meds are an important part of your treatment, but they work best when paired with healthy lifestyle changes. This could be as simple as taking a daily walk or switching to healthier snacks. Team up with a family member or friend so you’ll have support in reaching your goals.
Remember, when it comes to your health, all questions are good questions. If you have any doubts about how to take your meds, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.