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Hypertension: Common Treatments


Common treatments for hypertension vary from simple lifestyle changes to medication. Depending on the severity and type of hypertension you suffer from, treatment 

options can take a combined approach or a singular approach. If you have mild to moderate hypertension you will most likely be instructed to increase physical activity, stop smoking, eat a healthy, balanced diet and start diuretic therapy. For some, this can solve the problem and be a long term solution. Others with more severe hypertension will more likely be required to do it all: diet, exercise, stress management and medication. 

The most common medication prescribed for hypertension are ACE inhibitors, which can be combined with other anti-hypertensive drugs to best reduce blood pressure. The other types of medication are diuretics, ARB drugs, beta blockers, calcium channel blockers and peripheral vasodialators. Depending on the type and severity of hypertension, some medications may be combined. 

Stress management is an important part of controlling hypertension since over time stress can increase blood pressure. Eastern medicine has provided great tools to like meditation, yoga and acupuncture to reduce stress. There are herbal and alternative treatments available and more are studied everyday. Simple dietary changes such as increasing fruit and vegetable intake while lowering animal fats and replacing saturated fat with unsaturated fat can help lower blood pressure in some people. Research on fish oils have shown that replacing saturated fats with fish oils can have positive effects on hypertension. Similarly, a one year study on olive oil showed that participants were able to lower their hypertension medication use by 48%. It is speculated that the polyphenols in olive oil could be the major factor in its health benefits. 

One issue the medical community has with hypertensive treatment involving medication is that recent studies suggest they may not always be effective at reducing the rate of heart attacks. Treating people with mild hypertension can actually raise the likelihood of heart attack by a factor of four. Exercise is an important part of controlling hypertension. Studies documenting people with normal or borderline high blood pressure show that exercising with moderately for 45 minutes per day, three days a week creates a reduction in blood pressure both during the exercise and later during rest. Some moderate exercise ideas would be walking, swimming or biking. If you are hypertensive, be careful to warm down after exercise since stopping suddenly may cause a sudden drop in blood pressure resulting in dizziness. If you are on beta blocker medication, it is very important to consult a doctor before starting an exercise program because this particular drug can substantially reduce heart rate during exercise. 

Ideally, hypertension should be treated naturally before it becomes a problem requiring medication. By living an active life and incorporating good fats into your diet and stress relief into your daily life, you can avoid later needing more stringent restrictions or medications. Medication may seem like the easiest solution but in the long run changing your lifestyle is always better. 

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Greg Cryns
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