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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Diseases and Conditions > High Blood Pressure: Treatment & Monitoring
      Category : Health Centers > High Blood Pressure

High Blood Pressure

Alternate Names : Hypertension

High Blood Pressure | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

What are the treatments for the condition?

Secondary high blood pressure can sometimes be controlled by treating the underlying condition. Effective treatment of Cushing's syndrome may lower blood pressure. Open heart surgery to correct coarctation of the aorta can correct high blood pressure.

There are many types of medications used to treat high blood pressure. The medications are classified as follows:

  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, or ACE inhibitors, block the production of a body chemical that constricts the arteries. ACE inhibitors include benazepril hydrochloride, enalapril maleate, and quinapril hydrochloride.
  • Angiotensin II receptor blockers block the effect of a body chemical that constricts the arteries. This group of medications includes valsartan, losartin potassium, and candesartan.
  • Beta-blockers lower the heart rate and increase the amount of blood pumped with each heartbeat. Common beta-blockers include atenolol, propanolol hydrochloride, and nadolol.
  • Calcium channel blockers lower the heart rate and relax the blood vessels. Some common calcium channel blockers include amlodipine besylate, diltiazem hydrochloride, nifedipine, and verapamil.
  • Diuretics, or water pills, help the body get rid of extra fluid and sodium. Common diuretics include furosemide, hydrochlorothiazide, and chlorthalidone.
  • Sympathetic nerve inhibitors keep the nervous system from constricting arteries. This group includes clonidine hydrochloride, guanabenz acetate, and alpha methyldopa.
  • Vasodilators relax the muscles in the blood vessel walls and allow the vessels to dilate. Common vasodilators include isosorbide dinitrate and hydralazine.
  • Calcium channel blockers have been used for more than 20 years to treat high blood pressure. However, the findings of two recent studies have shown that people who take a calcium channel blocker have a much higher incidence of complications than people taking other medications for high blood pressure. One study, for example, found that the risk of heart attack was 27% greater. The risk of congestive heart failure was 26% higher. The American Heart Association recommends discussing the risks and benefits of the medication with the healthcare provider.

    The choice of medication varies depending on a person's medical history. Beta-blockers usually are avoided in someone with breathing problems such as asthma. ACE inhibitors and diuretics are especially useful for people with kidney disease or diabetes. A person who has high blood pressure may be on multiple medications.

    The goal of treatment is to keep the top number below 140 and the bottom number below 90. In a person with diabetes, the goal is to keep the top number below 130 and the bottom number below 85. For an individual with heart disease or kidney disease, the goal is to get the blood pressure as low as can be tolerated.

    What are the side effects of the treatments?

    The side effects of treatment of high blood pressure vary according to the medications used. Beta-blockers can worsen asthma. Diuretics can cause dehydration and salt imbalance. Calcium channel blockers can cause swelling of the legs, as well as a higher risk of heart attack and congestive heart failure. ACE inhibitors may lead to chronic dry cough.

    What happens after treatment for the condition?

    A person who has high blood pressure needs to continue to take the prescribed medications daily. Blood pressure may return to normal as a result of lifestyle changes. These changes include weight loss, increased physical activity, reduction of alcohol intake, and a diet low in sodium. In most cases, a person will need to continue to take blood pressure medications for life.

    How is the condition monitored?

    High blood pressure is monitored through frequent visits to a healthcare professional. A person who has high blood pressure often records blood pressure readings between office visits. Any new or worsening symptoms should be reported to the healthcare provider.

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    High Blood Pressure: Prevention & Expectations


    Author: Bill Harrison, MD
    Reviewer: Eileen McLaughlin, RN, BSN
    Date Reviewed: 08/09/01

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