High Blood Pressure Treatment Goals

Strategies for Reducing Blood Pressure

Woman measuring her blood pressure, France

High blood pressure is an important risk factor for various diseases, including heart attacks, stroke, heart failure, and kidney disease. There are many options when it comes to treating high blood pressure. Medications, lifestyle changes, and other interventions are all used in varying combinations, depending on the unique needs of each patient.

Individualized Treatment for Different Types of Cases

While the goal of high blood pressure treatment is always to reduce the blood pressure, the specific target numbers and the way you reach them may differ depending on the complexity and cause of high blood pressure.

Uncomplicated patients have no underlying disease causing their high blood pressure and have not developed any other organ problems as a result of their high blood pressure; complicated patients have other existing diseases in addition to their high blood pressure. For example, treating hypertension in a patient with diabetes may involve a different treatment protocol and a different blood pressure target.

Goals for Uncomplicated Patients

Treatment for uncomplicated patients is focused on reducing the blood pressure and avoiding long-term complications. The specific blood pressure goals are:

  • Systolic Pressure <140
  • Diastolic Pressure <90

So, a blood pressure of 138/87 would be considered within goal range but 138/91 would not.

Goals for Complicated Patients

Complicated patients require treatment of both high blood pressure and other existing diseases. Some common diseases that coexist with high blood pressure include:

  • Diabetes
  • Kidney Disorders
  • Certain Heart Disorders or Diseases

The specific blood pressure goals in complicated patients are:

  • Systolic Pressure <130
  • Diastolic Pressure <85

So, 129/84 would be within the target range but 130/83 would not be.

Treating High Blood Pressure

Making lifestyle changes can be a critical component of any treatment plan to lower blood pressure.

In many cases, lifestyle changes are the only treatment needed. Even if you don't have high blood pressure, the American Heart Association recommends making these important changes to help prevent high blood pressure and heart disease:

  • Lose weight
  • Quit smoking (or better yet, never start)
  • Eat a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products as well as low in saturated fat
  • Reduce sodium intake to no more than 2,300 milligrams a day
  • Participate in regular aerobic exercise at least 30 minutes a day, most days of the week
  • Limit alcohol intake to no more than two drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women

Medications can also be an important part of many treatment plans to reduce blood pressure, especially for patients who need to achieve more dramatic reductions. Drugs to treat high blood pressure may include:

  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
  • Angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs)
  • Diuretics (water pills)
  • Beta-blockers
  • Calcium channel blockers
  • Alpha-blockers
  • Alpha-agonists
  • Renin inhibitors

Monitoring Goals

During treatment, blood pressure must be checked regularly to ensure the effectiveness of the current course of therapy. It is common for patients to have their blood pressure checked every 1-6 months depending on:

  • The aggressiveness of the treatment
  • Past records of success or failure with treatment
  • The blood pressure as recorded over the previous 3 months