High blood pressure often has no symptoms. But it can have serious consequences if it's not kept under control. It can raise your risk of heart attack, stroke and kidney disease.
Closely following your treatment plan can help prevent some of these problems. While there is no cure for high blood pressure, lifestyle changes and medications are effective treatments that can help you live a longer and healthier life.
A commitment you can live with
You've already taken the first step toward controlling high blood pressure by seeing your doctor. It's important that you continue to follow your doctor's advice and get all suggested checkups and tests.
For instance, be sure to have your blood pressure checked as often as your doctor recommends. You may want to learn how to check it at home. Many stores sell blood pressure monitors or have one available for use.
But just as important is to follow all the instructions that your doctor gives you.
Your doctor may suggest lifestyle changes aimed at helping you manage blood pressure. Medication may also be prescribed.
Follow a healthful diet. That means eating food that's low in saturated fat, cholesterol, sugar and sodium.
For many people, lower salt intake equals lower blood pressure. Also, you can cut down on fat and cholesterol by choosing to eat more fish, poultry and nuts instead of red meat and sweets.
A healthy diet also includes plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. These give you important nutrients - such as calcium, magnesium, potassium and fiber - that may help lower blood pressure.
Get daily exercise. With your doctor's approval, aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity most days of the week to help control blood pressure. If you're taking blood pressure medicine, exercise may even help it work better. To lose weight, you may need about 60 minutes of physical activity every day.
You don't have to do it all at once, though. Try breaking up your daily exercise routine into shorter sessions. For example, take a brisk walk each morning for 15 minutes, and then again that evening. Invite a family member or friend to join you and help keep you motivated.
Be sure to check with your doctor before you start or increase your exercise.
Adopt other healthy habits. Tobacco, alcohol and stress can also raise blood pressure. Controlling your blood pressure means not smoking, limiting drinking and finding healthy ways to manage stress. Talk with your doctor if you need help with quitting smoking or drinking. Also ask him or her about ways you can better manage stress.
Take all medicine as directed. For some people, lifestyle changes may be the only prescription needed for lifelong blood pressure control. But most people with high blood pressure also need one or more medications for effective control.
If you have a prescription, it's important that you take the medicine as directed. Blood pressure medicine only works while you are taking it. When you stop taking it, your blood pressure will go back up. If you are bothered by any side effects, talk with your doctor. But don't stop taking the medicine or change the dosage without your doctor's guidance. There are many types of blood pressure medicines. Your doctor will find the one that is right for you.
Be sure you know the names and dosages of your ED medicines and understand how to take them. To make sure that you don't miss a dose, have your prescriptions refilled before they run out. Use a pill box with spaces for each day to help you remember to take your medication. Get into the habit of taking your medicine at the same time every day.