After this, I will start going into the flurry of natural options available that might be just as good.
Typically, you will be told to make changes to your diet, exercise more, and shed pounds if you need to.
The goal is to lower blood pressure to below 140/90 mmHg for most individuals with high blood pressure — and even lower for individuals with diabetes or kidney failure.
Here are some quick points on what lifestyle changes could do:
- Weight loss alone could reduce systolic blood pressure by 5 mmHg to 20 mmHg
- Changing your dietary habits with more fruits and vegetables and less salt could lower systolic blood pressure by 8 mmHg to 14 mmHg
- Regular exercise such as brisk walk for 30 minutes a day could lower systolic blood pressure by 4 mmHg to 9 mmHg
- Limiting alcohol intake to no more than two drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women could also lower systolic blood pressure by 2 mmHg to 4 mmHg
One large meta-analysis of 147 studies looked at the effectiveness of blood pressure-lowering drugs in preventing heart disease.
The conclusion: lowering systolic blood pressure by 10 mmHg or diastolic blood pressure by 5 mmHg using any drug could reduce your risk of major heart events by about 25% and stroke by more than 30%. You could also reduce the risk of death from heart disease, and dementia and heart failure are also greatly reduced.
There are five classes of drugs prescribed by doctors to lower hypertension/high blood pressure:
1. Diuretics (water pills): They help the kidneys excrete excess salt and water. They can lower systolic blood pressure by 15 mmHg.
2. Adrenergic receptor antagonists: These reduce the force of the heart’s contractions. They can drop systolic and diastolic levels by 17 mmHg and 10 mmHg, respectively.
3. Calcium channel blockers: These reduce the force of the heart’s contraction or dilate arteries — and lower systolic and diastolic levels by 16 mmHg and 11 mmHg, respectively.
4. ACE inhibitors: These dilate the arteries and lower systolic and diastolic levels by 15 mmHg and 10 mmHg, respectively.
5. Angiotensin II receptor antagonists: These dilate your arteries and lower levels by 13 mmHg and 10 mmHg, respectively.
Read the first part of this series on healthy blood pressure by clicking here.