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Hypertension treatment

Treatment for high blood pressure (hypertension) involves ways to keep your blood pressure at a safe level. This may involve lifestyle changes and/or medicines.

To diagnose high blood pressure your consultant or GP will examine you and ask questions about your medical history and discuss any symptoms. Your blood pressure is checked using a cuff which is usually placed around your arm. It's important that the cuff fits well as if it's too big or too small your blood pressure readings can vary.

Your blood pressure measurement shows the pressure in your arteries when the heartbeat stops (top number, called the systolic pressure) and between heartbeats (bottom number, called diastolic pressure).

High blood pressure is diagnosed if the blood pressure reading is equal to or greater than 130/80 millimetres of mercury (mm Hg). A diagnosis of high blood pressure is based on the average of two or more readings taken on separate occasions.

Tests to check for the cause of high blood pressure
  • Ambulatory monitoring. This is a longer blood pressure monitoring test where blood pressure is checked regularly over six or 24 hours.
  • Laboratory tests. Blood and urine tests can be used to check for conditions that can cause or worsen high blood pressure. This may include tests to check your cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
  • Echocardiogram. This is a noninvasive examination that uses sound waves to create detailed images of the beating heart. The test shows how blood moves through the heart and heart valves.

Home monitoring is a good way to keep track of your blood pressure and can help monitor whether your medicine is working or if your condition is getting worse.

Treatment for high blood pressure

Changing your lifestyle can help control and manage high blood pressure. Lifestyle changes may include:

  • Eating a healthy heart diet with less salt
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Regular physical exercise
  • Limiting alcohol
  • Limiting caffeine
  • Not smoking
  • Maintaining 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night

Medication can be used to treat high blood pressure. Usually, a combination of medicines together with lifestyle changes will work best for you.

The medicine recommended for you will depend on your age, ethnicity and blood pressure level.

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