Men’s Health Month: High blood pressure & blood pressure medication
Nearly half of adults in the United States (108 million, or 45%) have hypertension defined as a systolic blood pressure ≥ 130 mm Hg or a diastolic blood pressure ≥ 80 mm Hg or are taking medication for hypertension.
Only about 1 in 4 adults (20%) with hypertension have their condition under control.
What is normal blood pressure for men?
Your blood pressure is represented by 2 numbers – your systolic and diastolic pressures. While those numbers change during the day, both are important. The first number, the systolic pressure, measures pressure while the heart is pumping blood. The second number, the diastolic pressure, measures pressure between heartbeats when your heart is resting.
You want your blood pressure to be at 120/80 or lower.
High blood pressure occurs when your blood is pushing too hard inside your arteries. This can damage arteries and blood vessels, making your arteries weak and thin over time. Having high blood pressure for too long can lead to heart attacks and strokes, and can damage your internal organs.
Before 55, men have a higher likelihood of having high blood pressure than women. Regular checkups are crucial to catching high blood pressure before it’s a real problem.
High blood pressure treatment
If you learn that you have high blood pressure, plan to make some healthy lifestyle changes.
According to the American Heart Association, eating less salt and saturated fat but more fiber, fruits and leafy greens can help. Work to maintain a healthy weight by exercising regularly and limiting the amount of alcohol you drink. If you smoke or vape, stop right away. If these changes don’t help, ask your doctor about medications.
Blood pressure medications
There are a variety of blood pressure medications that can help you manage hypertension. Some of the most popular are beta blockers, ACE inhibitors, and diuretics.
Beta blockers treat high blood pressure by blocking the hormone epinephrine, also known as adrenaline. Blocking adrenaline makes your heart beat more slowly and less forcefully, which helps lower your blood pressure. Beta blockers also work to open your arteries and veins to improve blood flow. They have side effects and generally aren’t used in people with asthma or diabetes, so use with caution. Common beta blockers are:
ACE inhibitors treat high blood pressure by preventing your body from making angiotensin II, which narrows your blood vessels. This helps relax your veins to lower your blood pressure. ACE inhibitors have fewer side effects than other medications. Common ACE inhibitors are:
- Lisinopril (Prinivil, Zestril)
- Quinapril (Accupril)
- Ramipril (Altace)
Diuretics, or “water pills,” work by helping your body eliminate salt and water. This reduces the amount of fluid in our veins and arteries, which lowers blood pressure.
There are 3 types of diuretics:
- Potassium sparing
Talk to your doctor about whether medication might help you manage your blood pressure.