If you’re alive, you have blood pressure and you want it to be strong. It needs to be able to circulate blood through your entire body. Without it, your body can’t get the oxygen it needs to survive. The problem is that sometimes your blood pressure is too high--your heart is working too hard—and it needs to be brought down to an acceptable level.
Measuring Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is measured with two numbers representing the systolic pressure and the diastolic pressure. The larger number is the systolic number. It is the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats. The smaller number is the diastolic pressure or the pressure in your arteries between beats. The unit of measure for blood pressure is mm Hg or millimeters of mercury.
High Blood Pressure
Normal blood pressure readings should be less than 120/80. Borderline high (prehypertension) readings are between 120-139/80-89. High blood pressure (hypertension) is considered anything higher than 140/90. If your blood pressure is in the high range, the doctor may prescribe a medication to you.
You need to take the medication daily. Even if your blood pressure falls or you feel fine, that indicates the medication is working not that it has cured your of high blood pressure. Do not adjust the dosage on your own. It should only be done by the doctor. Write down any side effects you feel and report them to the doctor. Make sure you refill your prescription before it runs out.
Your doctor will start you on a low dose of the medication he wants you to take. Taking a low dose minimizes side effects and helps keep your blood pressure from falling too quickly. After a month or two, your doctor will evaluate the medications effect by checking your blood pressure.
If It’s Not Working
If the medication hasn’t lowered your blood pressure into the normal range, your doctor will increase the dosage of the drug you are taking, add another medication or switch you from your current medication to a different one. If the medication is showing some effect, it is unlikely that the doctor will switch you from it. That is usually the option if it isn’t lowering your blood pressure or the side effects to it are too great.