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Treatment Options

If you have hypertension, lifestyle changes with or without medications can help you reduce your blood pressure into a healthier range (below 130/80 mm Hg). Your exact therapy plan, and whether or not you need medication, depends on your starting blood pressure readings. Your goal will also depend on your other risk factors (e.g., if you already have heart failure, kidney disease, or diabetes, you may set an even lower goal for your "target" blood pressure).


Lifestyle changes are some of the simplest ways to help lower your blood pressure. Your doctor may recommend that you avoid smoking; exercise more often (e.g., at least 30 minutes a day); maintain a healthy weight; adopt a low-salt and low-fat diet; use alcohol in moderation; and stop or change any medications that raise blood pressure.


There are several different types of medications that your doctor can use to help manage your hypertension. The most commonly prescribed blood pressure lowering medications (antihypertensives) include: diuretics (water pills); calcium channel blockers; angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors; angiotensin II receptor blockers; and beta blockers. If none of these reduce your blood pressure sufficiently, your doctor may add one of the following medications: alpha blockers; alpha-beta blockers; vasodilators; centrally acting (nervous system) agents. Additionally, your doctor may prescribe other medications to manage potential cardiovascular risks (e.g., aspirin to prevent clotting in coronary arteries).