Decision Assist

High blood pressure medication


The purpose of this tool is to help you decide whether high blood pressure medication is right for you. When making a decision like this, you must balance:

This tool is not a substitute for professional medical care and advice. Work with your doctor to help you make this decision. A second opinion from another doctor may be valuable. Medication always has potential side effects, and you should be fully informed about the risks and benefits of this type of medication. There is usually no exact “right” or “wrong” answer.

Your physician may make certain recommendations

What is the medication?

Hypertension means high blood pressure. This generally means:

Either or both of these numbers may be too high.

The goal of treatment is to reduce blood pressure to a level where you have a lower risk of complications from high blood pressure. Treatment usually takes place at home with close supervision by your health care provider, but it may occur in the hospital if your blood pressure is dangerously elevated.

Monitoring blood pressure

Medications for high blood pressure may include diuretics, beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs), or alpha blockers. You may need medications such as hydralazine, minoxidil, diazoxide, or nitroprusside if your blood pressure is very high.

Blood pressure

Key points

How much time this decision tool will take

What this tool will provide

Review Date: 12/31/2010
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Previously reviewed by Larry A. Weinrauch MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Cardiovascular Disease and Clinical Outcomes Research, Watertown, MA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network (10/20/2008).

  • Seventh report of the joint national committee on prevention, detection, evaluation, and treatment of high blood pressure (JNC 7) express
  • Guidelines subcommittee. 1999 World Health Organization -- International Society of Hypertension.
  • Guidelines for the management of hypertension. J Hypertens. 1999;17:151-83.
  • Farsang C, Sleight P. Isolated systolic hypertension: Cardiovascular risk and treatment benefits. European Society of Hypertension Scientific Newsletter: Update of Hypertension Management. 2001;2:No.6.
  • Douglas JG, Bakris GL, Epstein M, et al. Consensus statement of the hypertension in African Americans Working Group of the International Society on Hypertension in Blacks (ISHIB). Archives of Internal Medicine. 2003;163:525-541.
  • Ernst ME, Bergus GR. Favorable patient acceptance of ambulatory blood pressure monitoring in a primary care setting in the United States: a cross-sectional survey. BMC Fam Pract. 2003;4:15.
  • Reims HM, Kjeldsen SE, Mancia G. Home blood pressure monitoring. European Society of Hypertension Scientific Newsletter: Update of Hypertension Management. 2005;6:No.12r.
  • Mallion JM, Schmitt D. Patient compliance in the treatment of arterial hypertension. European Society of Hypertension Scientific Newsletter: Update of Hypertension Management. 2001;2:No.7.
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