A diastolic blood pressure number above 90 — the bottom number of a blood pressure reading — is generally considered too high. After an initial diagnosis, a doctor will often recommend lifestyle changes such as weight loss and dietary improvements as ways to lower diastolic blood pressure. If these changes don't work, medication may be prescribed. If left untreated, high diastolic blood pressure can lead to serious health problems such as organ damage, stroke, and heart attack.
Weight loss is considered to be one of the most effective ways to lower diastolic blood pressure as well as improve overall health, so a patient who is overweight and has high blood pressure may be urged to start an exercise program. Along with exercise, an improved diet typically aids weight loss and lowers blood pressure. Restricting sodium, commonly called salt, is generally regarded as crucial. In addition, dieters are usually advised to eat more fruits and vegetables while decreasing their intake of fat and cholesterol. Since drinking alcohol can also affect blood pressure, those who are trying to lower diastolic blood pressure may want to consider reducing or eliminating alcohol.
Sometimes, lifestyle changes are not enough to lower diastolic blood pressure. In these cases, doctors may prescribe medication. A number of blood pressure medications are available and it may take time to find the most effective treatment. Beta blockers are one common type of medication. They work by slowing the heartbeat. A slower heartbeat means the heart does not have to work as hard, which means less pressure on the blood vessels.
Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors are another popular type of blood pressure medication. They work by stopping production of a hormone in the body called angiotensin II, which narrows the blood vessels. Angiotensin II receptor blockers are newer drugs that work in a similar way to ACE inhibitors, while calcium channel blockers relax blood vessels by preventing the heart and other muscles from absorbing calcium. Diuretics, also called water pills, treat high blood pressure by flushing excess water and sodium from the body.
Although blood pressure medications can be an effective way to lower diastolic blood pressure, they can cause side effects which may affect overall health. In most cases, patients will need to take the medicine indefinitely. A patient who stops medication typically will find his blood pressure will rise if medication is stopped.