Will I take medicine all my life?


I was diagnosed with high blood pressure. Does this mean that I have to take drugs all my life? Allen

Dear Allen,
The heart is useful in pumping blood to the body to supply essential nutrients, (such as glucose,) or oxygen.
When the heart pumps, it exerts pressure in the arteries known as blood pressure. If the pressure is high, then one has hypertension and if low, then they have hypotension.

If someone’s blood pressure is consistently 140/90 or higher, then one has hypertension that requires addressing with lifestyle changes and if this does not help, medication may be prescribed.

Persistent hypertension may lead to among others stroke, heart attack, kidney failure and death. Even moderately high pressure (140-159/90-99mmhg) may shorten life expectancy.

In more than 90 per cent of those suffering from high blood pressure, the cause may not be found and here apart from lifestyle changes one may require to take drugs for life to keep the pressure within normal ranges.

In cases where a cause is found, this is called secondary hypertension and here the causes may be addressed to lower blood pressure. In secondary hypertension, it may not be necessary to keep taking drugs since removal of the cause will normalise the pressure.

Still, one may require lifestyle changes to maintain normal pressure. Secondary hypertension can be caused by conditions that affect the kidneys, arteries, heart or the hormonal system that includes the thyroid gland.

Mild hypertension if not associated with lots of blood fats or diabetes may only require lifestyle changes such as eating a healthy diet of fruits, vegetables, lean protein, reducing salt, sugar and alcohol intake, quitting smoking, managing obesity and getting more physical exercise.

If this does not help, your doctor may advise mild treatment or closer monitoring.


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