High blood pressure is a common condition. The CDC estimates that 45% of all Americans have hypertension, and only a quarter of those who are diagnosed with the condition are successfully controlling their blood pressure with medication.
Uncontrolled high blood pressure is a serious issue since it can increase a person’s risk of having a heart attack or stroke. The good news is that it’s possible to manage the condition through a combination of lifestyle changes and medication. However, keeping track of the medications required to manage blood pressure can be a challenge, because it may mean remembering to take multiple pills per day.
Successfully treating high blood pressure requires time, patience and diligent compliance with a doctor’s recommendations. It may take some time to figure out the best medication for a person’s needs, and further time to get the dosage right.
Throughout this process, it’s important to listen to the doctor, follow their instructions, be honest about how the treatment is going and be patient.
Don’t push for a doctor to prescribe a specific medication simply because a friend or a family member has done well on that drug. There are many medications for blood pressure management, and they each have different side effects and contraindications. A doctor may recommend using a specific drug because it’s the best choice based on factors such as a senior’s age, weight, sex or other medications being taken.
A doctor may also advise making lifestyle changes, such as gentle exercise, cutting down on drinking or smoking, or changes in diet. These changes may be hard to make at first, but they can have a big impact on a person’s overall health, so it’s important to comply.
For blood pressure medication to work it must be taken at the right time intervals, day after day, for a long period of time. Try not to skip doses, and renew prescriptions in advance so as not to run out.
Don’t cut the pill in half or take smaller doses in order to make the medication last longer. The dose the doctor prescribed has been carefully calibrated, and while taking a lower dose may not have any noticeable effects, high blood pressure is known as the silent killer because it can be doing a lot of damage without someone even knowing there’s anything wrong.
Those who struggle to remember to take medications can try the following:
Patients should continue taking blood pressure medication, even if they feel fine. A senior’s doctor will recheck their blood pressure every few months. If it’s within the normal range after one year of taking a medication, they may reduce the dosage and repeat the monitoring process on the lower dose.
Unwanted side effects experienced while taking blood pressure medication should be reported to the prescribing doctor. Don’t simply stop taking the medication. Common side effects of blood pressure medications can include headaches, constipation, increased thirst, rashes, dizziness and tiredness. While side-effects can be unpleasant, the risks associated with stopping the medication abruptly are serious.
A senior being treated for high blood pressure will need to see their doctor periodically so they can check whether the medication is working.
A doctor may decide to change the dosage or the medication itself if they feel that it’s not working as effectively as it should be.
If it’s having the desired effect and bringing the person’s blood pressure under control, a doctor may reduce the dosage. Being told to take a smaller dose is good news, and it means that overall a person’s blood pressure has improved.
Some people manage to get their blood pressure back to within normal levels by changing their diet, losing weight if they are overweight, stopping smoking and/or being more active.
In these cases, the person may have been prescribed medications to bring their blood pressure down in the short-term, but no longer need the medications due to their new lifestyle.
In other cases, high blood pressure may be hereditary, age-related or due to some other medical condition, and it may be necessary to take medication over the long-term. Fortunately, diligent use of blood pressure medications is usually enough to keep blood pressure within safe levels and reduce a senior’s risk of complications.