Most people with hypertension (high blood pressure) are not reaching the new blood pressure targets, recent research has shown. Good control is vital to reduce heart attacks, heart failure, stroke and kidney damage.
The latest blood pressure (BP) target is below 130/85 for young and middle aged people (<65 years), diabetics and those with kidney disease. For people over 65, levels below 140/90 are recommended.
Lifestyle changes to reduce BP
The Heart Foundation recommends you:
- Lose weight, if necessary. Blood pressure reduces by an average of 2 points for each kilogram lost.
- Get regular exercise, at least 30 minutes of moderate activity on most days.
- Reduce alcohol. Set a limit of 2 standard drinks per day or less.
- Reduce salt. Use salt-reduced processed foods and cut down on added salt.
- Stop smoking. Smokers with raised BP have 3-4 times the risk of heart attack and stroke compared to non-smokers.
- Eat a healthy, low fat, well balanced diet.
Blood pressure medication
If you cannot reach your target with these changes, your doctor may advise medication. Although you will start with a small dose of one medicine, most patients require a comb-ination of 2 or 3 different drugs later on.
Most people on treatment experience no side effects and lead normal lives. Side effects are often temporary. However, if they do persist, inform your doctor so that an alternative drug can be tried.
Tablets for hypertension will usually need to be taken for life, as medication only controls the pressure and does not cure it. Try to keep up with the lifestyle changes to minimise the amount of medication needed.
Never stop your tablets without checking with your doctor and have regular BP checks.
Speak to your doctor for more information, or ring Heartline on 1300 362 787, or visit http://www.heartfoundation.com.au/.
Please note this information was correct at time of printing.
For up to date information, speak to your doctor.