Hypertension is an elevation of blood pressure (BP)

Hypertension is an elevation of blood pressure (BP).

What are the risks?

Patients with high BP are at higher risk of having a heart attack and stroke. There is also a risk of damaging your heart, kidneys and eyes.

What lifestyle factors contribute?

  • Weight
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Exercise (independent of weight)
  • Smoking
  • Salt intake
  • Stress

Lifestyle modifications can make a significant difference, for example reducing your weight by 10kg can reduce your BP by around 10mmHg.

Will I need medications?

The aim is for 90% of readings to be below 130/80. If this is not achieved by lifestyle changes alone, then the recommendation is to start on treatment.

There are a number of classes of anti-hypertensives which act on different systems which control our BP. You may be prescribed one or more, depending on your readings. The common ones are:

  • ACE Inhibitors/ ARBs – act on the kidney
  • Calcium channel blockers – act on our blood vessels
  • Diuretics – act by removing salt through the kidneys
  • Beta-blockers – reduce our heart rate and force of heartbeat

Once prescribed, your BP will need to be monitored to ensure the target is achieved. A medication may need to be changed if there are side-effects, or if there is any evidence the medication is not agreeing with you (adverse effect on your kidneys for example). It is possible to reduce/ come off medications if lifestyle changes are taking effect over time.