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Where can I find hypertension treatment?

Prevent serious health problems by seeking hypertension treatment.

A doctor will assess test results and determine an appropriate hypertension treatment. [©Shutterstock, 2010]
©Shutterstock, 2010
A doctor will assess test results and determine an appropriate hypertension treatment.

Hypertension treatment can help prevent serious health problems, including heart attack, stroke, blindness, and kidney or heart failure. An estimated one-third of American adults has hypertension, or high blood pressure, according to the American Heart Association. Since people with hypertension often don't exhibit symptoms, the only way to get a diagnosis is to see a doctor. Blood pressure is considered "high" if it is greater than 140/90 mm Hg. Keep reading for an overview of effective hypertension treatment options.

Eliminating Hypertension Risk Factors

Certain behaviors can increase the risk of developing or exacerbating hypertension. Drinking more than three or four ounces of 80-proof alcohol per day increases blood pressure. As a result, the American Heart Association recommends that alcohol consumption be limited to one or two drinks a day. Quitting smoking can have a positive impact on blood pressure and has numerous other health benefits. Stress can contribute to smoking, alcohol consumption or overeating, all of which raise the risk for hypertension, heart attack and stroke. Try to take time to relax every day. Regular exercise can also mitigate stress and bolster overall health.

Treating Hypertension with Diet and Exercise

Maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly are crucial components of any hypertension treatment plan. The ideal diet includes fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins. People with hypertension need to be especially vigilant about sodium intake and should consume no more than six grams (one tablespoon) of table salt each day. Since processed foods and fast food are often high in sodium and low in nutritional content, it's best to avoid them and stick with fresh foods.

In addition to a healthy diet, it's important to get adequate exercise. Maintaining physical fitness and keeping a healthy weight helps to avoid complications associated with hypertension and can also lower blood pressure. Aim for 30 minutes of vigorous activity on most or all days -- but consult a doctor before beginning any new exercise regimen.

Hypertension Medication

For some people, diet, exercise and eliminating other risk factors isn't enough to sufficiently lower blood pressure. In such cases, a doctor may prescribe medication. The type of medication prescribed may vary depending on the severity of the problem and any other conditions the patient may have. Classes of hypertension drugs include alpha blockers, ACE inhibitors, angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs), beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers, central alpha agonists, diuretics, renin inhibitors and vasodilators.

It's important to discuss current medications with a doctor. Certain medications can raise blood pressure. These include cold remedies, cyclosporine, diet pills, erythropoietin, monoamine oxidase inhibitors, nasal decongestants, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), oral contraceptives and tricyclic antidepressants.

For more information on treating and preventing hypertension, visit the American Heart Association's Web site.

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