Effective high blood pressure treatment usually involves medication and heart-healthy lifestyle changes, such as a low sodium diet and regular exercise.

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Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the inner lining of your arteries. When that force is significantly higher, putting your health at risk, it’s called high blood pressure or hypertension.

Hypertension management often requires taking one or more blood pressure-lowering medications (antihypertensives) daily and making lifestyle modifications that support optimal cardiovascular health.

There is no permanent “cure” for hypertension because the steps to control it have to be done for the rest of your life. Once you stop managing your condition, your high blood pressure will likely return.

To get your blood pressure into a healthy range and keep it there, work with your healthcare team to map out a treatment plan and learn how to monitor your blood pressure at home.

Learn more about hypertension.

Blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) and divided into systolic and diastolic pressures.

Systolic (the top number on your blood pressure reading) is the pressure inside your arteries when your heart contracts and pumps blood out to the body. The diastolic pressure (bottom number) is the pressure in the arteries when your heart rests between beats.

High blood pressure is a systolic pressure of 130 mm Hg or higher or a diastolic pressure of 80 mm Hg or higher. The higher these numbers climb, the more serious the health risks become.

Nearly half of all adults in the United States have hypertension, but only a quarter of those with high blood pressure have it under control, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Those who aren’t managing their hypertension run the risk of several severe health problems associated with high blood pressure, including:

Managing chronic hypertension requires a multifaceted approach that should begin by working with your healthcare team. There are other essential steps you can take to help manage your hypertension and keep it at a healthy level.

Here are tips to help you manage your hypertension and improve your health:

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute suggests that working with a doctor and team of healthcare professionals, such as a nutritionist, pharmacist, and various specialists, can give you the best chance of managing your hypertension and preventing serious complications.

You can track any changes in your blood pressure by seeing your doctor regularly. Your doctor can then adjust your medication regimen by adding a medication (or removing one if appropriate) or changing the dosage.

Your doctor can also make other recommendations regarding diet, exercise, and treating conditions that might affect your blood pressure, such as diabetes or kidney disease.

The increased use of telehealth or “connected health” services – communicating via video chat and other internet-based means – in recent years also may be helpful in managing hypertension.

A 2019 report in Frontiers in Cardiovascular Medicine suggests that connected health may improve adherence to antihypertensive medication use and blood pressure treatment overall.

Many of the lifestyle behaviors that can help move your blood pressure into a healthy range are the same that may help you prevent developing hypertension.

Some of the most essential steps include:

If lifestyle changes aren’t enough to get your blood pressure to a healthy level, your doctor may prescribe any of several types of antihypertensive medications. Each type of medication works a little differently to reduce your blood pressure.

Your doctor will likely start you off with one medication, though you may need more than one to get your numbers down.

Some of the more common antihypertensives include:

Having your blood pressure checked when you see your doctor is helpful, but people with hypertension should consider home blood pressure monitoring. Home monitoring allows you to track your blood pressure in between visits.

A 2021 report in the American Journal of Hypertension suggests that home monitoring should play “a central role” in managing hypertension because it can help identify increased risks of serious cardiovascular events.

The key is to use a home monitor correctly and keep track of changes in your blood pressure. Talk with your healthcare team for recommendations on the type of machine (an arm cuff is preferable to a wrist device) and how to measure your blood pressure accurately. Consider bringing your monitor to your doctor’s office for a quick lesson.

Even though hypertension can’t be cured with a short-term round of medications or a procedure, it’s usually a manageable condition.

The key is being willing to take medications daily and committing to a lifetime of heart-healthy behaviors. It’s also essential to understand that as you age and your health changes, you may need to adjust your medication regimen and lifestyle accordingly.

High blood pressure usually causes no symptoms but can result in adverse effects. If you receive a high blood pressure diagnosis, follow your healthcare team’s advice to lower your risks of hypertension-related complications.