Determine if it's Right to Stop Taking Blood Pressure Medication

Lifestyle changes may make a difference

Woman checking blood pressure in living room
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Exercise, weight loss, healthy eating, and abstinence from tobacco are all vital steps in controlling high blood pressure and improving your overall health and lifespan. If you have made these changes, you can be on track to enjoying a longer, higher quality life and your blood pressure may show positive changes as a result.

Can You Stop Taking Medications?

"Can you stop taking high blood pressure medications?" This is a question common among patients who have taken steps to improve their health after being diagnosed with high blood pressure.

Unfortunately, being a common question does not mean there is a simple answer.

For many people, a dedicated program of exercise and weight loss can ultimately lead to normalized blood pressure that does not require medical management. Studies have shown that weight loss can be as effective as drug therapy for treating high blood pressure. Pinpointing the right time to discontinue drug therapy can be difficult. Generally, if your blood pressure has been within the target treatment range for longer than six months and you have shown dedication to maintaining your current program, your doctor might determine that you are ready for a "no meds" trial.

If you have been losing weight and exercising for six months, but your blood pressure is still above normal, even a little, then stopping medications might not be a good idea. Any elevation in blood pressure above normal levels is associated with an increased risk of heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.

Ideally, you want your blood pressure as low as it can get without causing symptoms of low blood pressure. Under the guidance of your doctor, maintain your exercise program for another six months and see how your pressure reacts.

You May Not Be Able to Stop Medication

For some people, exercise, weight loss, and other elements of a healthy lifestyle will not be enough to control blood pressure without medication.

This does not mean you have failed or need to go to extreme levels of exercise or body weight reduction—everyone is different.

A lot of this difference is determined by genetic factors and can also depend on whether you have other problems like diabetes or kidney disease. Some people have blood pressure that is harder to control. If you are one of these people, do not be discouraged. Studies have shown that exercise and weight loss are even more important for you.

If your doctor recommends that you keep taking your high blood pressure medications, follow those orders. Remember that there is nothing bad about taking these drugs. Sometimes patients can feel pressure from people or groups that advocate natural approaches to health and life. But data have consistently shown that drug therapy is the right approach to treating illnesses like high blood pressure.

High blood pressure medicines are not bad for you, are not addictive, and can carry additional benefits—like kidney protection—beyond their blood-pressure-lowering effects. Research shows that patients generally live longer lives, have fewer complications, and spend less time in the hospital when treated appropriately with drug therapy.

Do not decide on your own to stop taking your blood pressure medications. It can be dangerous to suddenly stop some medications. Discontinuing drug therapy at the wrong time might make it harder to treat your high blood pressure.

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