Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is dangerous because it can lead to strokes, heart attacks, heart failure, or kidney disease. The goal of hypertension treatment is to lower harmful high pressures and protect important organs, such as the brain, heart, and kidneys. In studies, treatment for hypertension has been associated with reductions in stroke (reduced an average of 35 percent to 40 percent), heart attack (20 percent to 25 percent), and heart failure (more than 50 percent).
The Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure has classified "normal blood pressure" as less than 120/80 mmHg, "pre-hypertension" as 120-139/80-89 mmHg, and "hypertension" as greater than 140/90 mmHg. All patients with blood pressure readings greater than 120/80 should be encouraged to make lifestyle modifications. Treatment with medicine is recommended to lower blood pressure to less than 140/90 mmHg. For patients who have diabetes, or chronic kidney disease, the recommended blood pressure is less than 130/80 mmHg.
Treatment of hypertension involves lifestyle changes and drug therapy.
A critical step in preventing and treating hypertension is a healthy lifestyle. You can lower your blood pressure with these lifestyle changes:
In addition to lowering blood pressure on their own, these measures enhance the effectiveness of antihypertensive medicines.
There are several classes of drugs used to treat hypertension, including:
The Joint National Committee recommends thiazide-type diuretics as the first line of therapy for most people who have hypertension. If the patient has problems with one drug or if it isn’t effective, he or she can be switched to another drug.
A doctor might start a medicine other than a diuretic as the first line of therapy if a patient has certain medical problems. For example, ACE inhibitors are often a good choice for a patient with diabetes.
If a patient’s blood pressure is more than 20/10 mmHg higher than it should be, the doctor might consider starting the patient on two drugs.
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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 07/17/2019