Which patients are prescribed antihypertensive medicines?

Janice M. Boughton, MD
Internal Medicine

Most physicians will consider starting antihypertensive medication (blood pressure medicines) to patients with a blood pressure consistently at or above 140/90. Normal blood pressure is as 120/80 or less, measured with the patient sitting, feet and back supported, after at least 5 minutes of rest. A patient is considered to have prehypertension if their blood pressure is between 120/80 and 140/90. Sometimes blood pressure medicines are used to treat other conditions, such as congestive heart failure or angina even if a patient's blood pressure is not high. Many diabetics with normal blood pressure are given a particular type of blood pressure medicine (Ace inhibitors) in order to reduce their risk of developing kidney disease.

Any person who has high blood pressure - with a reading consistently above 120/80 - may be prescribed antihypertensive medicines. In addition to taking these medicines, people with high blood pressure are counseled to make lifestyle changes, including reducing salt intake, limiting stress, getting regular exercise, and following a heart-healthy diet.

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