Manual Blood Pressure: Some Help (How To...)

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Changing your lifestyle can go a long way toward controlling high blood pressure. Your doctor may recommend you make lifestyle changes including:. But sometimes lifestyle changes aren't enough. In addition to diet and exercise, your doctor may recommend medication to lower your blood pressure. If you're age 65 or older, and use of medications produces lower systolic blood pressure such as less than mm Hg , your medications won't need to be changed unless they cause negative effects to your health or quality of life.

The category of medication your doctor prescribes depends on your blood pressure measurements and your other medical problems. It's helpful if you work together with a team of medical professionals experienced in providing treatment for high blood pressure to develop an individualized treatment plan. Thiazide diuretics. Diuretics, sometimes called water pills, are medications that act on your kidneys to help your body eliminate sodium and water, reducing blood volume. Thiazide diuretics are often the first, but not the only, choice in high blood pressure medications.

Thiazide diuretics include chlorthalidone, hydrochlorothiazide Microzide and others. If you're not taking a diuretic and your blood pressure remains high, talk to your doctor about adding one or replacing a drug you currently take with a diuretic. Diuretics or calcium channel blockers may work better for people of African heritage and older people than do angiotensin-converting enzyme ACE inhibitors alone. A common side effect of diuretics is increased urination. Calcium channel blockers. These medications — including amlodipine Norvasc , diltiazem Cardizem, Tiazac, others and others — help relax the muscles of your blood vessels.

Some slow your heart rate. Calcium channel blockers may work better for older people and people of African heritage than do ACE inhibitors alone. Grapefruit juice interacts with some calcium channel blockers, increasing blood levels of the medication and putting you at higher risk of side effects. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you're concerned about interactions.

If you're having trouble reaching your blood pressure goal with combinations of the above medications, your doctor may prescribe:. Beta blockers. These medications reduce the workload on your heart and open your blood vessels, causing your heart to beat slower and with less force. Beta blockers include acebutolol Sectral , atenolol Tenormin and others. Beta blockers aren't usually recommended as the only medication you're prescribed, but they may be effective when combined with other blood pressure medications.

Renin inhibitors. Aliskiren Tekturna slows down the production of renin, an enzyme produced by your kidneys that starts a chain of chemical steps that increases blood pressure. Aliskiren works by reducing the ability of renin to begin this process. To reduce the number of daily medication doses you need, your doctor may prescribe a combination of low-dose medications rather than larger doses of one single drug.

In fact, two or more blood pressure drugs often are more effective than one. Sometimes finding the most effective medication or combination of drugs is a matter of trial and error. If your blood pressure remains stubbornly high despite taking at least three different types of high blood pressure drugs, one of which usually should be a diuretic, you may have resistant hypertension.

People who have controlled high blood pressure but are taking four different types of medications at the same time to achieve that control also are considered to have resistant hypertension. The possibility of a secondary cause of the high blood pressure generally should be reconsidered. Having resistant hypertension doesn't mean your blood pressure will never get lower. In fact, if you and your doctor can identify what's behind your persistently high blood pressure, there's a good chance you can meet your goal with the help of treatment that's more effective. Some experimental therapies such as catheter-based radiofrequency ablation of renal sympathetic nerves renal denervation and electrical stimulation of carotid sinus baroreceptors are being studied.

If you don't take your high blood pressure medications exactly as directed, your blood pressure can pay the price. If you skip doses because you can't afford the medications, because you have side effects or because you simply forget to take your medications, talk to your doctor about solutions.

Don't change your treatment without your doctor's guidance. Explore Mayo Clinic studies testing new treatments, interventions and tests as a means to prevent, detect, treat or manage this disease. Lifestyle changes can help you control and prevent high blood pressure, even if you're taking blood pressure medication. Here's what you can do:. Decrease the salt in your diet. Aim to limit sodium to less than 2, milligrams mg a day or less.

However, a lower sodium intake — 1, mg a day or less — is ideal for most adults. While you can reduce the amount of salt you eat by putting down the saltshaker, you generally should also pay attention to the amount of salt that's in the processed foods you eat, such as canned soups or frozen dinners. Increase physical activity. Regular physical activity can help lower your blood pressure, manage stress, reduce your risk of several health problems and keep your weight under control.

Aim for at least minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity, or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity. For example, try brisk walking for about 30 minutes most days of the week. Or try interval training, in which you alternate short bursts of intense activity with short recovery periods of lighter activity.

Aim to do muscle-strengthening exercises at least two days a week. Monitor your blood pressure at home. Home blood pressure monitoring can help you keep closer tabs on your blood pressure, show if medication is working, and even alert you and your doctor to potential complications. Even if you get normal readings, don't stop or change your medications or alter your diet without talking to your doctor first.

If your blood pressure is under control, check with your doctor about how often you need to check it. Although diet and exercise are the most appropriate tactics to lower your blood pressure, some supplements also may help lower it. However, more research is needed to determine the potential benefits. These include:. Some research is studying whether vitamin D can reduce blood pressure, but more research is needed.

While it's best to include these supplements in your diet as foods, you can also take supplement pills or capsules. Talk to your doctor before adding any of these supplements to your blood pressure treatment.

Topic Overview

Some supplements can interact with medications, causing harmful side effects, such as an increased bleeding risk that could be fatal. You can also practice relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or meditation, to help you relax and reduce your stress level. These practices may temporarily reduce your blood pressure. High blood pressure isn't a problem that you can treat and then ignore. It's a condition you need to manage for the rest of your life. To keep your blood pressure under control:. Sticking to lifestyle changes can be difficult, especially if you don't see or feel any symptoms of high blood pressure.

If you need motivation, remember the risks associated with uncontrolled high blood pressure. It may help to enlist the support of your family and friends as well. If you think you may have high blood pressure, make an appointment with your family doctor to have your blood pressure checked. No special preparations are necessary to have your blood pressure checked. You might want to wear a short-sleeved shirt to your appointment so that the blood pressure cuff can fit around your arm properly. Avoid eating, drinking caffeinated beverages and smoking right before your test.

Measuring Blood Pressure |

Plan to use the toilet before having your blood pressure measured. Because some medications, such as over-the-counter cold medicines, pain medications, antidepressants, birth control pills and others, can raise your blood pressure, it might be a good idea to bring a list of medications and supplements you take to your doctor's appointment. Don't stop taking any prescription medications that you think may affect your blood pressure without your doctor's advice. Because appointments can be brief, and because there's often a lot to discuss, it's a good idea to be prepared for your appointment.

Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment, and what to expect from your doctor. Your time with your doctor is limited, so preparing a list of questions will help you make the most of your time together. List your questions from most important to least important in case time runs out.

For high blood pressure, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:. In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask questions during your appointment at any time that you don't understand something. Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions. Being ready to answer them may reserve time to go over any points you want to spend more time on. Your doctor may ask:. It's never too early to make healthy lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, eating healthy foods and becoming more physically active.

These are primary lines of defense against high blood pressure and its complications, including heart attack and stroke. Mayo Clinic does not endorse companies or products. Advertising revenue supports our not-for-profit mission. This content does not have an English version. This content does not have an Arabic version. Blood pressure measurement To measure your blood pressure, a specialist places an inflatable cuff around your arm and measures your blood pressure using a pressure-measuring gauge.

Request an Appointment at Mayo Clinic. Share on: Facebook Twitter. References High blood pressure. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Accessed March 9, What is high blood pressure? American Heart Association. Hypertensive crisis: When you should call for high blood pressure.

Hypertension in adults: Screening and home monitoring. Preventive Services Task Force. Accessed March 27, Thomas G, et al. Here are more suggestions for foods you can eat and eating habits you can practice.

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Drinking alcohol can lead to dehydration. It can also interact with medications and cause low blood pressure. Sodium helps to raise blood pressure. However, it can raise blood pressure too much. It can also lead to heart disease. Ask your doctor how much is right for you. Add table salt to whole, unprocessed foods. Avoid refined and processed salty foods. Diabetes and high blood sugar levels may lead to low blood pressure. Use a home monitor to check your blood sugar levels several times a day. See your doctor to find out the best diet, exercise, and medication plan to help balance blood sugar levels.

Thyroid conditions are very common. This can lead to low blood pressure. A simple blood test can tell your doctor if you have this condition. You may need medication and dietary changes to help boost your thyroid function. Elastic stockings or socks can help prevent blood from pooling in your legs.

Understanding Blood Pressure Readings

This helps to relieve orthostatic or postural hypotension which is low blood pressure due to standing, laying down, or sitting too much. People who are on bed rest may need compression braces to help pump blood from the legs. Orthostatic hypotension is more common in older adults. It happens to up to 11 percent of middle-aged people and 30 percent of older adults. Your doctor may prescribe medications to help treat low blood pressure. These drugs help to treat orthostatic hypotension:. These include:. Some serious bacterial, viral, and fungal infections can cause low blood pressure.

Your doctor can find out if you have an infection with a blood test. Treatment includes IV antibiotics and antiviral drugs. Low blood pressure may also be a sign of a health issue or emergency condition. Treatment may be necessary. Diagnosing and treating these conditions can help balance blood pressure.

Blood pressure

Your doctor may recommend simple tests such as:. Some medications can cause low blood pressure. These include drugs to treat high blood pressure and other conditions, such as:. Drinking alcohol or using recreational drugs while taking medications, or combining certain medications can also lead to low blood pressure. Shock is a life-threating condition.

It can happen in response to a number of emergency conditions. Shock leads to low blood pressure, but low blood pressure can also cause your body to go into shock. Treatment may involve raising blood pressure by IV fluids or blood transfusions. For example, in anaphylactic shock , an injection of epinephrine EpiPen helps to quickly raise blood pressure. This can be life-saving for someone having a severe allergic reaction to peanuts, bee stings, or other allergens.

High blood pressure is a major cause of stroke. However, some medical research shows that keeping blood pressure high immediately after a stroke may actually help prevent brain damage. This helps to reduce the risk of death and disability. The American Stroke Association advises keeping blood pressure higher than normal for up to 72 hours after a stroke.

This may help to infuse the brain with blood better and help it recover from the stroke.

Some people have low blood pressure all the time. Tell your doctor if you have any symptoms. Keep a journal of your symptoms and what you were doing when they happened.

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This can help your doctor diagnose the cause of your low blood pressure. If you have orthostatic hypotension, avoid symptom triggers, such as standing too much. Also avoid other triggers such as emotionally upsetting situations. Learn to recognize triggers and symptoms. Put your head down or lay down if you feel dizzy or lightheaded.

These symptoms usually pass quickly. Children and teens who have low blood pressure due to body position typically grow out of it. You may need simple changes to your daily diet to balance low blood pressure. Drink more water by using a portable water bottle. Use an alarm or timer to remind you to take a sip. If you think a medication may be causing your low blood pressure, ask your doctor to recommend a different one.

Feeling dizzy and tired at the same time could be a symptom of various conditions.