Municipal Pension Plan

Prescription Check-Up: Blood Pressure Medications

Wednesday, Dec 11, 2019

Blood pressure medications are an example of a common type of prescription that should be closely managed to ensure you are still using the right drug, and the right dosage, for your condition. 

If you have been taking medication for a long period of time, it’s important to have regular discussions with your doctor or pharmacist to make sure the dosage - and the drug itself - is still the best choice for you.

One example of a type of medication that should be reviewed regularly are blood pressure medications, typically used to treat high blood pressure (also known as hypertension). Blood pressure is usually measured using two distinct numbers, e.g.: 135/85. High blood pressure occurs when the pressure inside your arteries increases, meaning your heart has to work harder to continue pumping blood. High blood pressure can be discovered through blood pressure readings, which are based on the measurement of the two numbers: systolic blood pressure (the top number, which refers to the amount of pressure in the arteries during the contraction of the heart muscle), and diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number, which refers to the blood pressure when your heart muscle is between beats).

A common blood pressure target many people aim for is between 140/90 to 160/100, but those numbers may be lower in some cases. There is not necessarily one consistent goal for everyone. If you have, or are at risk for, high blood pressure, it’s important to work with your doctor to determine your personal blood pressure target numbers. Your target blood pressure numbers can take into account individual factors including your age, current health profile, medications list, and more.

When tolerated successfully in a patient, high blood pressure medications can help to prevent serious or sometimes fatal conditions like strokes or heart disease. There are many types of blood pressure medications available today, and just like blood pressure targets, it’s important to find the right path for your individual needs by working directly with your healthcare provider. For example, if you are under 60 years of age, have diabetes or kidney disease, you may be referred toward a specific type of medication over another.

It’s important to pay close attention to your blood pressure to ensure it stays at your targeted levels; not going too high or too low. If your blood pressure dips too low, you may experience light-headedness, dizziness, or you may fall. If this happens to you, do not suddenly stop your blood pressure medication(s). Always see your healthcare provider to assess your symptoms. If your symptoms were caused by your blood pressure medication(s), your healthcare provider may change the dose and/or the medication.

If you have high blood pressure, ask your doctor about possible lifestyle changes you could make to help improve your condition. This may include the following:

  • Limit salt from all sources to no more than 1 teaspoon (5mL, or 2300mg) per day. Salt is hidden in many commonly eaten foods, including: canned foods, and take-out and prepared meals.
  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Exercise moderately or vigorously most days of the week, for a total of 150 minutes/week (always consult with your healthcare provider before beginning a new exercise routine).
  • Maintain a healthy weight (some people are able to discontinue their blood pressure medications after significant weight loss).
  • Limit exposure to smoking.
  • Limit alcohol intake.
  • Manage your stress levels.

Talk with your health care provider to learn more about high blood pressure treatment and prevention options.

 

Additional information can be found at the following resources:

https://www.healthlinkbc.ca/healthlinkbc-files/lower-your-blood-pressure

https://www.heartandstroke.ca/heart/risk-and-prevention/condition-risk-factors/high-blood-pressure

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