Are you getting the results you need from your blood pressure treatment plan? Here's how to make sure:
First, know your target blood pressure. Your target blood pressure depends on your medical conditions so talk to your doctor. Your doctor can advise you on what your target blood pressure should be. In general, the recommended target blood pressures are:
- less than 150/100 ("150 over 100") for people over 80 years old
- less than 140/90 ("140 over 90") for people without diabetes or kidney disease
- less than 130/80 ("130 over 80") for people with diabetes or kidney disease
Next, find out your current blood pressure. You can ask your doctor to check it, or ask your pharmacist about choosing a blood pressure monitor so you can measure it at home. Ask your doctor how often you should have your blood pressure tested. It's also a good idea to compare the results you get in your doctor's office to those you get on your home blood pressure monitor, as they may be slightly different.
Then, if your blood pressure is not at your target level, ask your doctor what you can do to get the results you need. If your blood pressure is not at its target level, there may be a few reasons:
- You are having trouble following your healthy living plan.
- You are having trouble taking your medication as directed.
- You need a higher dose of your medication.
- You need to change to a new medication.
- You need to add another medication to your treatment plan.
Whether you're struggling with your healthy living plan or taking your medication according to schedule, it's important to determine why you're having difficulty controlling your high blood pressure before changing your medication dose or adding another medication you might not need. Be up front with your doctor – they have your best interests and good health at heart.
Here are some tips on sticking to your plan:
Following your healthy living plan: It's not easy to make changes to your lifestyle. Don't expect to be able to change immediately. Focus on small, achievable changes that you can make, and ramp it up over time. Sometimes adding a bit of variety, such as a new form of exercise or a different type of food, can give you the boost you need. And don't forget to reward yourself! If you've had a good week sticking to your plan, arrange a healthy treat such as a trip to the movies (but skip the popcorn).
Taking a combination blood-pressure-lowering medication may save you money.
Taking your medications as directed: There are many reasons why it can be tough to stick to your medication. Choose the tips that apply to your particular concerns:
- Having trouble remembering to take it? Ask your doctor or pharmacist whether your medication routine can be simplified. For example, if you're taking more than one medication, you may be able to use a combination product that has two medications in one pill. Your pharmacist can also package your medication in a dosette, a special container with slots for each day so that you can see whether you've taken that day's dose. Or, you can try alarms and reminders. You can set your alarm clock or watch to beep when it's time for your medication. You can even use an online program for medication reminders, which can send you an email, give you a call, or send a text message when it's time to take your medication. Making it part of your daily routine can also help – take it when you brush your teeth, for example.
- Have too many pills? Again, ask your doctor or pharmacist how you can simplify your medication routine, such as using combination products that have two medications in one pill (e.g., lisinopril plus hydrochlorothiazide (Zestoretic®), enalapril plus hydrocholorthiazide (Vasoretic®), eprosartan plus hydrochlorothiazide (Teveten Plus® and many others).
- Having side effects? Contact your doctor or pharmacist to find out whether the side effects will eventually go away, how they can be managed, and whether there are other medications that may not have these side effects.
- Not sure whether it's working? Ask your doctor how often you should have your blood pressure tested. This test will show you how well your medication is working. It's important to realize that some medications take time to work, and your medication will not work properly unless you take it as directed.
- Medication too expensive? Check with your doctor or pharmacist about alternatives. You may be able to save money by switching to a combination medication or by choosing a different medication.
Find out today whether you're getting the results you need! And if you're having trouble following your treatment plan, try the tips above or talk to your doctor or pharmacist about ways to make it easier.