Blood pressure. What can you do?

Nearly 1 in 3 adult Australians has high blood pressure (hypertension). However, most people who are being treated are not reaching their target blood pressure. Many cases have not been diagnosed at all.

Target blood pressure (BP) is under 140/90 for most people and lower for those at higher risk of cardiovascular disease, e.g. people with diabetes or kidney damage. Not reaching your target leaves you at increased risk of stroke, heart attack and kidney failure.

Lifestyle factors

Lifestyle changes can lower your blood ­pressure and are essential in all cases. Try to maintain an ideal body weight, limit alcohol and salt, stop smoking and get regular exercise.

These changes may allow you to reduce and even stop your medication. However, in most cases, lifelong medication is needed.

Managing your medication

  • Take your tablets every day. Dosette boxes, blister packs, Post-it notes or mobile phone reminders help some people.
  • Most patients will need 2 or more drugs to reach their target blood pressure. 
  • Combination tablets are available which ­contain 2 or 3 medications. If you are taking 2 or more separate tablets ask your GP about switching to a single pill combination.
  • Ask your doctor about a Home Medicines Review if you are taking a lot of medication.
  • Side-effects from BP medications tend to ­settle within a few days. If they persist speak to your doctor about alternative drugs.
What else you can do
  • See your doctor for regular BP checks.
  • Monitoring your blood pressure at home can be useful. BP is often artificially raised at the surgery (‘white coat hypertension’).
  • Over-the-counter medicines such as anti-inflammatory tablets, complementary therapies and recreational drugs can raise blood pressure. Tell your GP everything you are taking.
  • If you snore ask your GP about sleep apnoea which is often missed as a cause of raised BP.

Heart Foundation

Please note this information was correct at time of printing.
For up to date information, speak to your doctor.

Source: Autumn 2011 Edition | Page 1

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