Medical Q&As

High blood pressure - self help?

I am currently on treatment for high blood pressure. My blood pressure has been high again in the last weeks and the doctor has put me on an extra tablet to control this. What else can I do to help this? There is a history of heart attacks and strokes in my family.

I would suggest that you take your medication as directed and do not make any changes in your drug schedule unless you have been instructed to do so by your doctor. It is remarkable how often people will alter their blood pressure medication without consulting with their doctor first. It is important to remember that high blood pressure is a symptomless condition and you cannot rely on the presence or absence of symptoms as a guide to therapy. As for additional measures, I would suggest that you reduce your intake of salt and alcohol, both of which can have a deleterious effect on blood pressure. I would also reduce weight if you happen to be overweight. You mention the family history of stroke and heart attack so it would be important to have your cholesterol checked. I would also suggest that you exercise regularly in order to improve your state of cardiovascular fitness. Finally, if you smoke you would be well advised to stop smoking because smoking is one of the most important risk factors for cardiovascular disease as well as a wide range of other diseases.