What are the guidelines for taking high blood pressure medication?

Audrey K. Chun, MD
Geriatric Medicine
Where high blood pressure is concerned, there is no "one size fits all" approach, and a number of studies have suggested that a combination of drugs is best. Current National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) guidelines call for the use of a diuretic and, if needed, another class of hypertension drugs, such as angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs), beta blockers or calcium channel blockers.

Finding out which of these options is suitable for you may involve some trial and error, since there's no reliable way to predict how a person will respond to a particular medication. While mild high blood pressure (between 130 and 159 mm Hg for systolic/upper pressure, and 85 to 99 mm Hg diastolic/lower), often may be treated with a single medication -- typically a diuretic at first -- if your blood pressure can't be managed with one medication, another may be added. Most doctors will employ a stepped approach using one drug and then adding a second as needed.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.