Stay on Track With High Blood Pressure Treatment
Commit to a healthy lifestyle and regular checkups to be at your best.
If you have high blood pressure, sticking to your treatment plan can help keep you feeling your best. Lifestyle changes, medications and regular visits to your doctor are usually very effective at helping you live a longer and healthier life.
Follow your doctor’s advice
Be sure to talk to your doctor and get all suggested tests and checkups. Regular visits will allow your doctor to adjust your treatment over time if needed. Sometimes different medicines are used in combination to help you reach your desired blood pressure. For most healthy adults under age 60, that’s a reading of less than 140/90. For those 60 and older, that’s a reading of less than 150/90.
A reading of less than 140/90 also applies to people ages 18 and older who have diabetes or chronic kidney disease. Your target blood pressure may be different.
Try to get any prescriptions filled before they run out and take all medications as prescribed. Don’t stop taking medications unless your doctor tells you to.
Make lifestyle changes
For some people, lifestyle changes alone can keep high blood pressure in check. Try to make these a habit:
- Eat a healthy diet. That means eating food that's low in saturated fat, cholesterol, sugar and sodium. You might consider one approach — the DASH diet. This eating plan focuses on fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products, as well as whole grains, fish, poultry, beans, seeds and nuts. The DASH diet is also low in fat, saturated fat and cholesterol. And it calls for less red meat, sodium and added sugars.
- Limit sodium (salt) intake. Experts recommend limiting sodium intake to no more than 2,400 mg per day. If you can lower your sodium intake to 1,500 mg a day, you may lower your blood pressure even more. Just dropping your intake by 1,000 mg a day — even if you’re not yet at the desired level — may help lower your blood pressure.
- Get daily exercise. Start by talking to your doctor before you make changes to the amount of physical activity you get. If you’ve been inactive, start slowly. You might begin with exercising in 10-minute sessions — and gradually build from there.
Most healthy adults should strive for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise a week. You need muscle-strengthening activities, too. Add those on two or more days a week.
- Maintain a healthy weight. The only proven way to lose weight is to burn more calories than you consume. This means eating smaller portions and lower-calorie foods, plus exercising more.
- Adopt other healthy habits. If you smoke, take steps to quit. If your doctor says you can drink alcohol, limit it to the recommended guidelines of one drink a day for women, two for men.
Your blood pressure can be controlled throughout your life if you stick closely to your treatment plan. It’s a commitment you can live with.
By Gregg Newby, Contributing Writer
James PA, Oparil S, Carter BL, et al. 2014 evidence-based guideline for the management of high blood pressure in adults: report from the panel members appointed to the eighth joint national committee (JNC 8). JAMA. 2014;311(5):507-520. Accessed: October 16, 2015.
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Living with high blood pressure. Accessed: October 16, 2015.
2013 AHA/ACC Guideline on lifestyle management to reduce cardiovascular risk. Accessed: October 16, 2015.
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. How is high blood pressure treated? Accessed: October 16, 2015.
Last Updated: October 16, 2015