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Health, social care & voluntary sector staff
You may be prescribed drugs to help lower your blood pressure
If you have high blood pressure your treatment may involve:
You doctor will take into account how high your blood pressure is as well as your ethnic origin, your general fitness, your age and any other medical conditions you might have before deciding what treatment is best for you. Questions you may have about your treatment can include:
When to start treatment with blood pressure lowering drugs will again depend upon your individual situation.
It is essential to try making some lifestyle changes and to maintain these changes even if you have to take drugs to lower your blood pressure.
If your doctor has suggested ambulatory blood pressure monitoring (ABPM) or home blood pressure monitoring (HBPM) to monitor your response to treatment then lower target ranges may be used. This is because blood pressure readings tend to be slightly lower at home / away from the clinic.
Sometimes it is not possible to reach your target range. However, any reduction in high blood pressure helps to reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.
There are different groups of drugs that are used to treat high blood pressure; each works in a different way. Generally, they work by manipulating your body's own mechanisms for controlling the blood flow to the different organs in your body. The end result is that they widen your blood vessels and / or reduce the work of your heart.
More specifically, they work on your brain, kidneys, heart or arteries, all of which are involved in regulating your blood pressure.
It is likely you may have to take more than one group of blood pressure lowering drugs. Your doctor will choose the best combination for you depending on your individual situation and how well your blood pressure responds to treatment. Your treatment may involve a combination of two, or more, of the following groups of drugs to lower your blood pressure:
The following drugs may also be prescribed to help reduce the risk of further problems with your heart:
More information on all the different drugs can be found in the heart drug treatment page.
It is very common to need a combination of two, or more, drugs to reduce your blood pressure to the within the target range. One of the benefits of taking a combination of blood pressure lowering drugs is that you are likely to need lower doses of each drug and will have fewer side effects.
The British Hypertension Society (BHS) have worked with the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) to produce guidelines for the management of high blood pressure. What combination you receive will depend upon your individual circumstances (particularly your age and ethnic origin). Your doctor and / or nurse may go through a number of well-recognised steps before finding the best combination for you.
The following table outlines current recommendations for choosing blood pressure lowering drugs. This is often known as the 'A / CD' approach.
The A / CD approach for people with newly diagnosed hypertension
Consider seeking specialist advice
A = ACE inhibitor (or ARB) C = calcium channel blocker D = thiazide diuretic
* Black African or Caribbean descent and not mixed race, Asian or Chinese origin