According to the Centers for Disease Control, one out of every three American adults has high blood pressure (HBP), or hypertension. This means that it is very likely that you or someone you know has HBP.
Because there are very few, if any, symptoms with HBP, people often do not know they have it unless they are checked by a health care provider. Uncontrolled HBP can lead to serious medical conditions, including heart disease, stroke, vision loss, or kidney damage.
Fortunately, research shows that there are many things you can do to control HBP, including choosing a diet low in saturated/trans fats and salt, doing something active most days of the week, and taking medications as prescribed by your health care provider.
It is important to have your blood pressure checked regularly. Some people even check it themselves at home.
There are several types of medicines available for blood pressure, so your health care team will work with you to decide which ones are best for you. Many people will need two or three medicines to control HBP.
The most common types of medicines include “diuretics,” “angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACE-inhibitors),” “angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs),” “beta blockers,” and “calcium channel blockers.” Be sure to ask your pharmacist about how and when to take your medicines.
A question that often comes up with medicines is whether there is a “best” time of the day to take them. One study compared two groups of participants with kidney disease who took several HBP medicines.
One group took all of their HBP medicines in the morning; the second group took at least one medicine at bedtime. After five years, the researchers found that the people taking at least one nighttime medicine had fewer total heart-related events such as a heart attack or stroke.
These findings suggest that it is important to make sure that blood pressure is controlled even during the sleeping hours. Some people experience tiredness with certain HBP medicines, so taking those medicines in the evening may be easier.
While research helps us to learn about how medicines work, it is important to know that not all findings apply to each individual person. Before making any changes to your medicines, discuss these findings with your pharmacist and your other health care providers. You, along with your health care team, can decide what works best for you.
The most important thing to remember is to take your HBP medicines regularly, have good communication with your health care team, and continue to be healthy.
Jacqueline L. Olin, M.S., Pharm.D., BCPS, CPP, CDE, is associate professor of pharmacy, Wingate University School of Pharmacy, Wingate, N.C.