Sometimes, making changes in your eating and lifestyle may not be enough to ward off the silent killer and control your high blood pressure. In that case, your doctor may prescribe medication to go with your healthy lifestyle.

There are many types of medication. Each works to control high blood pressure in its own way. As with treatment for any disease, there are benefits and risks to balance. But most people find that the benefits are worth it. Medication lowers blood pressure and decreases the risk of stroke, heart failure, and other problems.

If Medication Is Prescribed

Medication can safely lower high blood pressure. Your doctor explains the medication, including its side effects. Your blood pressure will be checked often to see how well the medication works. Most people have few side effects from their medication. But call your doctor right away if you feel different or worse after beginning to take the medication. Call whether you think the side effect is major or minor. Your doctor can change your dosage, switch your medication, or give you tips for dealing with side effects.

Types of Medication

Below are some common blood pressure medications:

  • Diuretics are the medication prescribed most often for high blood pressure. They lower your blood pressure by removing the excess fluid and salt. Because diuretics can sometimes make you lose potassium, your doctor will watch your potassium level.
  • Beta blockers keep your heart from pumping too hard. Blood pumped from your heart then presses with less force against your arteries. This lowers your blood pressure.
  • Adrenergic inhibitors, ACE inhibitors, calcium anatagonists, vasodilators, and angiotensin II blockers lower your blood pressure by opening up constricted blood vessels.

Call Your Doctor If:

  • You have headaches.
  • You feel dizzy.
  • You are nauseated.

Taking Medication Safely

High blood pressure medication only works when it's taken as directed. So follow the instructions you are given. And take your medication at the same time each day. Ask your pharmacist to suggest the best time to take your medication. Below is some helpful advice.

Make Medication Part of Your Routine

Never stop taking medication unless your doctor tells you to. Stopping your medication can cause a sudden, life-threatening increase in your blood pressure. The tips below can help you make medication part of your daily routine:

  • Mark your medication schedule on a calendar. Cross it off each time you take your dose.
  • Use a pill box to hold a 1 or 2 week supply.
  • Keep your medication near your toothbrush.

If You Miss a Pill

If you forget to take your medication, ask your doctor or pharmacist what to do. Remember: Don't double up by taking two the next time.

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The amount of alcohol you drink has nothing to do with your blood pressure.