High Blood Pressure
What is it?
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a common condition that affects many people.
Untreated, it can raise your risk of heart disease, stroke, heart failure, and kidney
problems. Many people don't know they have high blood pressure because it usually
doesn't cause symptoms. If lifestyle changes aren't enough, more than 50 prescription
drugs can treat high blood pressure. Most of them fall into one of the following
categories: diuretics, angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, angiotensin
receptor blockers, alpha-blockers, calcium channel blockers, or beta-blockers. Although
each group of drugs works in a different way, all are effective in lowering blood
pressure. Some of the newer medications used to treat high blood pressure are actually
combinations of these categories.
Your doctor will consider your medical history, current health, age, race, and the
severity of your hypertension when choosing a medication that's right for you. Beta-blockers,
such as atenolol (brand name Tenormin), and diuretics, such as hydrochlorothiazide
(Hydrodiuril), are often the first choice for people newly diagnosed with hypertension.
ACE inhibitors, such as lisinopril (Zestril), may be especially helpful for people
who have diabetes. Likewise, beta-blockers may help people who've had a heart attack
in the past. You may need to try several medications before you find the one that
works best for you. Or you may need to use a combination of these medications to
control your high blood pressure. Always talk to your doctor about which medication
is best for you.
What causes high blood pressure?
In as many as 95% of reported high blood pressure cases in the U.S., the underlying
cause cannot be determined. This type of high blood pressure is called essential
Though essential hypertension remains somewhat mysterious, it has been linked to
certain risk factors. High blood pressure tends to run in families and is more likely
to affect men than women. Age and race also play a role. In the U.S., blacks are
twice as likely as whites to have high blood pressure, although the gap begins to
narrow around age 44. After age 65, black women have the highest incidence of high
Essential hypertension is also greatly influenced by diet and lifestyle. The link
between salt and high blood pressure is especially compelling. People living on
the northern islands of Japan eat more salt per capita than anyone else in the world
and have the highest incidence of essential hypertension. By contrast, people who
add no salt to their food show virtually no traces of essential hypertension.
The following is a list of treatments and medications for High Blood Pressure
- ACE Inhibitors: Angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
widen or dilate your blood vessels to improve the amount of blood your heart pumps
and lower blood pressure.
- Treatment With Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers: Angiotensin II
receptor blockers decrease chemicals that narrow the blood vessels, allowing blood
to flow more easily through your body, lowering blood pressure.
- Diuretics: Treatment for Hypertension:Diuretics, often called "water
pills," help your body get rid of unneeded water and salt through the urine, which
helps lower blood pressure.
- Beta-BlockersBeta-blockers block the affects of adrenaline in the
heart. The result: the heart doesn't have to work as hard, which in turn lowers
- Calcium Channel BlockersCalcium channel blockers help to widen
blood vessels and make it easier for the heart to pump.