Do I need to take lifelong BP medicine
Has your blood pressure been creeping up inspite of taking your blood pressure medications ? If so, you may be at decision time: Do you need medicine life long or can you get those numbers down with healthier habits?
It depends on how high is your blood pressure and how is your general health and lifestyle . And what is your age.
The first step is to look at blood pressure figures . Blood pressure is always shown with a top and bottom number like 120/80
The top number tells you the pressure when your heart beats. The bottom number lets you know the pressure between beats.
Normal blood pressure is about 120 / 80. If one or both of those numbers is higher, there’s too much pressure in your arteries. Over time, the extra pressure can cause damage — and raise your chances of heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease.
So where do your numbers fall ?
130/80 – 139/89 (stage 1 hypertension): You might need medication.
These numbers qualify as high blood pressure and you need to take action. But you try out lifestyle changes first before adding drugs , unless you have other health problems.
One thing to keep in mind: Guidelines are different for older people. If you’re 60 or older, the American College of Physicians and the American Academy of Family Physicians recommend you start treatment if your top blood pressure number is 130 or higher.
140/90 or higher (stage 2 hypertension): You need medication.
At this level, your doctor is likely to prescribe medicine now to get your blood pressure under control. At the same time, you’ll also need to make lifestyle changes.
If you ever have blood pressure that’s 180/120 or above, it’s an emergency. You need medical help right away to get it under control.
While your numbers are important, they don’t tell the whole story. Other things affect the decision to take meds. Some issues to think about:
Do you definitely have high blood pressure? One high reading isn’t enough to know. Your doctor will want to check your blood pressure a few more times , over weeks or months just to make sure. Or alternatively , you could get an ambulatory BP monitoring done to identify the spikes in blood pressure
Have you checked your blood pressure at home, or only in the doctor’s office? If you don’t already have one, it’s a good idea to get a home blood pressure monitor. Lots of people have high blood pressure in the doctor’s office because they’re nervous( white coat effect ) . If your home readings are normal, your doctor may decide you don’t really need treatment. Although you may still get an ambulatory BP monitoring done to identify the spikes in blood pressure
Have you already tried lifestyle changes and your blood pressure is still high? If your blood pressure is still too high after 3 months of healthier habits, your doctor is likely to suggest medicine. Incase you are already on medications and have followed lifestyle changes , however your Blood pressure is still high , then you need to undergo certain investigations to rule out other causes of high blood pressure
If you have other medical problems , like high cholesterol, diabetes, or heart disease , high blood pressure raises your chances of getting a heart attack or stroke.
There are certain other criteria like race , age , gender , family history , habits like smoking , alcohol , being overweight or obese could also predispose to heart attack or stroke .
Some people choose to take medicine because they’re concerned about the risk of heart attacks and stroke. Others don’t like the idea of going on medication or worry about the side effects. Talk to your doctor about the pros and cons, and be open about how you feel.
Remember, high blood pressure has no symptoms. So the only way to know if it’s high or getting higher is to check it regularly.
Medications are not an excuse to give up on healthy lifestyle . You’ll get the most benefit from your blood pressure drugs if you combine regular exercise, a good diet, and a healthy weight.
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