Managing High Blood Pressure With & Without Prescriptions
Now that you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure,
Your doctor may prescribe medication and encourage specific lifestyle changes. Blood pressure medication has improved and saved the lives of countless hypertension sufferers with life-threatening conditions, but they are not without substantial drawbacks. Side effects range from mildly annoying to completely debilitating. You may have heard of people struggling to live with both high blood pressure and its treatment. Some side effects are rare and not everyone suffers severely, different people experience them differently. To complicate matters, many cases of hypertension require multiple medications, compounding the potential side effects. Few, however, escape them altogether.
While side effects usually appear quickly, more severe consequences may take years to develop. Beta-blockers are a good case in point. For decades they served as the front-line drug in the fight against hypertension. Literally millions upon millions of people have been prescribed them. But in 2006 beta-blockers were withdrawn for this use in the U.K. after new studies showed that they actually increase the risk of heart attack and stroke (compared to other blood pressure drugs). Worse still, beta-blockers have been shown to increase the risk of diabetes by up to 50% and are blamed for 8000 needless cases of diabetes a year in the U.K. alone. You can read about these side effects in the article “Prescription Medication & Their Side Effects”.
So, if you're unhappy with the side effects of your current medication, or prefer to supplement the medication or manage your high blood pressure with a natural treatment, what are your choices? And, if you are a member of the aging population that naturally experiences a slight elevation in blood pressure, one of the millions with moderate or borderline hypertension, or someone who could be better helped through a healthier lifestyle and effective herbal remedies, what are your choices? Not surprisingly, there is a lot of interest in alternative treatments for high blood pressure. Many use an all-natural approach that combines healthy, natural lifestyle and diet, suitable exercise, weight control and stress management with natural, effective, side-effect free herbal remedies. Consult your physician on what to include in naturally managing your high blood pressure and whether to supplement it with medication.
How do you embark on this all natural approach? For starters, include natural diuretics such as garlic, brown rice, watermelon, parsley and lemon in your diet, reduce stress wherever possible, eat healthy foods such as salmon, fish, and avoid chicken or duck skin and egg yolk. Stay away from fried and junk food, high sodium food and food high in saturated fats as they tend to increase the cholesterol levels. Minimize salt in your cooking, e.g., use low sodium soy sauce, and minimize use of frozen foods and processed foods as they are rich in sodium. Drink lots of water to get rid of salt. Doing mild, appropriate exercise on a routine basis is also part of the natural treatment for hypertension. Physical activities improve blood circulation, thereby increasing the oxygen and nutrient supply to the body organs, and help weight control, another necessity for reducing blood pressure problems. For additional diet, exercise and lifestyle improvement suggestions, see the articles "Taking Control of Your High Blood Pressure, Diet and Exercise for High Blood Pressure."
The Side Effect Risks that Come with Prescription Medication
Even though diuretics are more commonly prescribed to help alleviate water retention build up, they are nonetheless often prescribed to treat high blood pressure. Diuretics help the kidneys to filter sodium and water through urination, which in turn reduces water from the blood vessels around the heart, which ultimately reduces pressure around the heart. Doctors often prescribe this form of medication when a patient is first diagnosed with high blood pressure, as relieving water build up around the heart may be the solution. Diuretic medication therapy is considered an initial treatment recommendation. If there is still high blood pressure after a course of diuretics, your doctor will prescribe something else.
ACE Inhibitors, also known as Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, is a hormonal approach. ACE inhibitors narrow hormones that block constricting blood vessels, reducing the pressure, thereby helping to draw out extra sodium and water through urination, much like diuretics. Doctors often use ACE inhibitors in conjunction with diuretics to combat high blood pressure.
Beta blockers are used to reduce heartbeats. By reducing heartbeats, beta-blockers help lower high blood pressure. Throughout the entire body beta receptor stimulation often leads to increased blood pressure. Beta blockers lower the risk of high blood pressure’s most feared repercussions such as heart failure, heart disease and/or stroke.
Calcium Channel Blockers
Calcium channel blockers, also referred to as CCBs or calcium antagonists, lowers blood pressure by thwarting calcium’s entrance into the blood stream. Stopping calcium from entering the blood stream helps to keep blood vessels from narrowing. Normally CCBs are used in conjunction with other high blood pressure medications as opposed to a sole solution.
Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers
Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers, also referred to as ARBs, lowers blood pressure using a hormonal approach, similar to how ACE inhibitors work. However, because of the sometime harsh side effects of ACE inhibitors, ARBs are used instead as a more mild medication therapy. ARBs are sometimes used alone but are normally prescribed along with other high blood pressure medications for a more powerful effect.
Alpha blockers, similar to beta blockers, are prescribed to alleviate the muscles constricting blood vessels by keeping them open, making it easier for the blood to flow throughout the body, reducing blood pressure.
People who take Diuretics can be almost sure of having increased thirst and urination, but that is only natural since the diuretic is made to alleviate water retention that the body tends to hold. With all the urination, potassium is lost, which is why it is important to replace potassium intake with either bananas or a potassium pill that your doctor can prescribe in conjunction with the diuretic.
The side effects of ACE Inhibitors include dry cough and swelling and even, in some cases, increased reaction to different stimuli due to an allergic reaction.
The side effects of Beta Blockers include dizziness, constipation, nausea and headache. But it should be noted that not everyone experiences the same side effects. If you are taking beta blockers you may experience only constipation and headache or just some light headedness. It depends on the individual, the age, gender and what kind of physical condition the patient is in.
Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers, also referred to as ARBs, have similar side effects like beta blockers, although instead of constipation being a problem, diarrhea may become problematic. There can however be the same dizziness, nausea and/or headache. ARBs are not recommended for women who are pregnant. The side effects from Alpha-Blockers include dizziness, nausea, weight gain and tiredness or weakness.
Calcium Channel Blockers have very few side effects, which is why doctors like to prescribe this form of therapy to combat high blood pressure.
It should be noted that the above information is only for a quick reference. For more information on the above medications and their side effects, please talk with your Doctor and, as always, tell your Doctor if you are pregnant before taking any medication that is unrelated to pregnancy.