Step Up: Take Your Blood Pressure Meds and Save Your Life

Step Up: Take Your Blood Pressure Meds and Save Your Life

Q: How can I convince my husband to take his high blood pressure medicine? Help!

Katie J., Sioux Falls, SD

A: Katie, you’re right to be concerned—uncontrolled high blood pressure (HBP) can trigger stroke and heart attack at any age, but it’s especially risky if your husband is younger than 55, according to a new study in The BMJ. Fortunately, it can be controlled with lifestyle adjustments and medication.

Problem is many folks don’t take the diuretics, calcium channel blockers or ACE inhibitors that are commonly prescribed to treat HBP. In fact, a study in the journal Hypertension found 32 to 42 percent of folks didn’t take their medication as prescribed, or at all! And for patients prescribed more than one HBP med, noncompliance jumped to 77 to 85 percent!  

So to the approximately 65 million adults in the U.S. with uncontrolled hypertension we say, “The time is now to take steps to save your health.”

The SPRINT study found people with HBP who got intensive treatment aimed at lowering systolic BP (the top number) to less than 120 showed a 27 percent lower risk of all-cause death, compared to folks aiming for less than 140. And the VA Cooperative Study on Hypertension found guys (average age of 50) with a diastolic BP (the lower number) of 90 to 114 had a five-year risk of heart attack or stroke of about 50 percent; with treatment that went down to 5 percent! We say aim for 115/75.

Steps to Take: 10,000 a day for sure—and aim for a waist circumference of 40 inches or less for men; 35 inches or less for women. Also, limit alcohol intake; eat 7-9 servings a day of produce; and avoid trans and saturated fats, added sugars and syrups and refined grains.

Not taking HBP meds because of side effects? Talk with your doctor about trying a different medication or adjusting the dosage! And remember, when you start taking the meds, don’t skip even one day; that can trigger rebound cardiovascular problems, even sudden death.

Medically reviewed in May 2018.

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