Hypertension

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.