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Managing your high blood pressure with medications can seem daunting. So many medicines, complicated names, long lists of side effects, etc can leave your head spinning and wondering if it’s even worth it. So is it? Should you even bother?
YES! High blood pressure is sneaky. Many people have few or no symptoms when they are diagnosed with high blood pressure. When you add the seemingly complex task of managing one or several medications it can seem like an unnecessary addition to an already busy life. But keeping your high blood pressure under control is extremely important. Poorly controlled blood pressure can lead to many problems down the road. These problems can include heart failure, heart attacks, strokes, kidney disease (possibly requiring dialysis), blockages in blood vessels of the legs, and erectile dysfunction.
The good news is that control of high blood pressure (also called hypertension), along with control of other medical conditions can go a long way toward preventing these other problems.
The first step in getting control of hypertension involves making lifestyle changes. Watching what you eat, controlling your weight, increasing your physical activity, and getting quality sleep can also make your blood pressure easier to control. If you’ve already tried those things, or if your doctor feels additional treatments are needed, medications are usually the next step.
Doctors have known for many years that uncontrolled hypertension leads to unwanted health consequences. Hypertension is well studied and many of the medications used to treat hypertension have been available for a longtime. This is really good news because it means that the safety profile of these medicines is well known and it often means that generic versions of blood pressure medications are available. If finances are an issue, make sure to let your doctor know this because there may be cheaper options available.
When your doctor chooses to prescribe medications for your high blood pressure it can help to have an understanding of some of the commonly used medicines and their possible side effects. Keep in mind that treatment of any disease is highly individualized and that you should ask your doctor any questions you have about your treatment plan and of course, any medication can cause undesired side effects so make sure your doctor knows if you are having trouble tolerating your medications.
In general, getting great control of your hypertension is more important than the specifics of which medication is being used. There are also other uses for most of the commonly used medications so it may be the case that your doctor has chosen a medication for you based on not just your blood pressure but also any other condition that you might have or might be at risk of developing.
Sometimes, when blood pressure has been high for some time and a new medication is started you will notice symptoms related to newly lowered blood pressure. These symptoms will often improve or resolve over a few weeks as your body gets used to a new, lower blood pressure. These symptoms include things like fatigue or light headedness. Other side effects can be related to the medications themselves.
Medications for high blood pressure can be prescribed alone or in combination with other blood pressure medications. Many commonly available medications are actually combinations of more than one medicine. You can determine this by looking at the generic medication names listed on the label. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for help if you are uncertain about this.
Women who are pregnant or who might become pregnant need to make sure to discuss this with their doctor. Some of the above medications are not safe in pregnancy and your doctor may choose to change your medications.
One category of medications is called ace inhibitors (ACE-I) and angiotensin receptor blockers (ARB). These medication names often end with the letters …pril or …sartan. These medications work to lower blood pressure by their effect on the kidney and on the receptors in the heart and blood vessels. They can be used alone or in combination with other medications. Use of this type of medication will often require periodic lab monitoring to check your kidney function and blood electrolyte levels (like potassium). This type of medications also has some specific uses in addition to control of hypertension including diabetes, kidney disease, coronary disease (blockage of the arteries of the heart), and heart failure. A common side effect of these medications is development of a cough. This is not an emergency but it is important to let you doctor know if you develop a cough which taking this type of medicine. A rare but serious side effect is face and throat swelling (called angioedema). This can be dangerous. If you develop this side effect you should stop taking your medication and seek medical attention.
The next category of medications used for hypertension is calcium channel blockers (CCB). These medication names often endin …ipine, …izem, or …amil. These medications have an effect of the blood vessels. Some (but not all) of these types of medicines will also lower your heart rate (or pulse). They are sometimes also used for treatment of an irregular heart rhythm called atrial fibrillation. Sometimes calcium channel blockers can cause leg swelling or constipation. Make sure to mention this to your doctor if you develop either of these side effects while taking this medication.
The third category of medications is called diuretics. These medications sometimes end in …adone, …azone, …azide, …amide. Diuretics work in the kidney. They often cause an increase in urination and can also be used for control of excess fluid in people with congestive heart failure. Periodic lab monitoring is often required to follow kidney function and blood electrolyte levels.
The next category of hypertension medications is called beta blockers (B-blocker). These medication names often end in…olol. Beta blockers work on the muscle in the blood vessel and on the heart itself. They can also be used to treat other conditions like congestive heart failure or atrial fibrillation. Beta blockers will cause a decrease in the pulse rate. Beta blockers can sometimes worsen control of asthma so make sure your doctor is aware if you have this condition.
The above categories are the most common types of blood pressure medications but certainly not the only ones. There are several other types of medications used to treat hypertension. In general, these other categories of medicines are used for people with specific medical conditions, who have difficult to treat hypertension, or have intolerances to the more common medications. Knowing about your medications can help you and your doctor make the choices that are best for your health. If you have questions, make sure to ask your doctor so that you can be the healthiest version of you.
Important: The information provided is NOT a substitute for a doctor or professional healthcare or advice. Any health related information provided in SmartBP® app and this website is for informational purposes only and should not be used to replace the advice of healthcare professionals.
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SmartBP is available both in Apple App Store and Google Play StoreDownload for Free
This is so much easier than writing it down!
I’ve been having high BP readings at the clinic the last few months. Doctor is ready to put me on meds. I asked for a few weeks to check readings and improve lifestyle. This app is showing me so many things! Like what the average reading is and what percentage it’s on each category. Turns okay systolic the majority’s of the time but it looks like I have diastolic hypertension which is supposed to be rare. I wouldn’t have known this without the insights and stats screens.
Best blood pressure tracking app that I have found. Very versatile. Developer responsive and continually looking to polish the app. No regrets upgrading to paid version. Extremely happy.
This app helps me track my blood pressure and assists my doctor in helping me with my hypertension.
I had to monitor by BP for the Dr. while checking responses to medication. This was an efficient way to keep record for myself and show the Dr. my progress
I just got diagnosed with hypertension. This app has helped me and doctors find the best meds to use
Unfortunately I was diagnosed with high blood pressure and need to monitor twice daily at least and review with my doctor every three months. She and I both love the app because you can track a lot more than just BP and you can share your findings. I love that I can SEE it clearly too as some other apps I tried were very small and very light text. Even though I could track in Apple health kit I prefer this for many reasons and you can pull the data from here to there anyway AND then other apps if you do desire like LoseIt!
This is a very good app to track and analyze your blood pressure. It has been a tremendous help to me monitoring and charting my progress. I tried several apps before deciding that SmartBP was the clear winner.
A great way to keep track of your blood pressure daily so you can keep up with your numbers.
I’ve been using the app for a long time. Version 6.6 had a bug that wouldn’t open the app on my iPhone. Problem was fixed within 24 hours. Outstanding response.
SmartBP is being a great help to me tracking my blood pressure while I’m battling high pressure. Having the graphs and stats is encouraging when I see the downward trend. Being able to send a report to the doctor instantly is great for getting feedback from the doctor easily. I like that the limits can be modified and have changed mine (with help of my doctor) to reflect the parameters that apply for me. Great response from the developer to my questions and suggestions. You know you have a good app when the developer is working to make it better and responsive to input. I see from other posts that this developer is engaged with users and working on making the app even better!
This is an outstanding blood pressure app. I’m glad it’s very easy to use because I input my blood pressure several times a day. I like how it gives me an average of my blood pressure and that it gives me statistics and a graph of all my entries. Great app!
Automatically transfer your measurements to SmartBP App without the need to manually enter them.