Hypertension occurs when blood pressure is consistently raised above normal over a long period of time. A physician may treat this condition with antihypertensive therapy. This typically involves a course of antihypertensive drugs. These could include beta blockers, calcium channel blockers, blood vessel dilators and diuretics. The physician will very likely recommend a lifestyle modification at the same time, such as a change of diet and developing an exercise routine.
Drugs used for antihypertensive therapy can have certain side effects. Diuretics may lower potassium levels and can lead to weakness and cramps in the legs. They can also raise blood glucose levels in patients suffering from diabetes. There have been reports of people developing gout on diuretics.
Beta blockers are known to lower blood pressure and slow the heart rate. They can also cause depression and fatigue, as well as asthma symptoms. Patients with diabetes should be closely followed by a physician after taking beta blockers.
Calcium channel blockers could cause a drop in blood pressure. Other side effects include dizziness, constipation and palpitations. Blood vessel dilators open up the blood vessels and these drugs can also create a dip in blood pressure. They have been known to cause swelling around the eyes and headaches.
There are a number of effective natural ways to lower blood pressure. Drinking hibiscus tea and taking coenzyme Q10 are both thought to be helpful with antihypertensive therapy. Losing weight and abstaining from alcohol are other known factors that bring the numbers down to normal levels. Other natural methods include quitting smoking, stress reduction techniques and limiting salt and caffeine intake. There are times, however, when diet and exercise are not enough to bring blood pressure down sufficiently, and this is when a physician may recommend antihypertensive therapy that includes a drug regimen.
The numbers may change slightly from country to country, but generally, physicians recommend that people maintain a blood pressure level of around 140/90 or lower. For those suffering from diabetes they recommend that the levels drop to 180/80. The first, or top number, is called the systolic blood pressure, and the lower number is referred to as the diastolic blood pressure. If the numbers are out of this range consistently, the physician may start a patient on one of the thiazide diuretics as a first course of action. Studies have shown that thiazides were more effective at lowering systolic levels than other antihypertensive therapy drugs, and they were found to be relatively well tolerated.