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Living With High Blood Pressure

If you have high blood pressure (HBP), you'll need to treat and control it for life. This means making lifestyle changes, taking prescribed medicines, and getting ongoing medical care.

Treatment can help control blood pressure, but it will not cure HBP. If you stop treatment, your blood pressure and risk for related health problems will rise.

For a healthy future, follow your treatment plan closely. Work with your health care team for lifelong blood pressure control.

Lifestyle Changes

Making healthy lifestyle changes can help control HBP. A healthy lifestyle includes following a healthy diet, being physically active, maintaining a healthy weight, and not smoking. (For more information, go to "How Is High Blood Pressure Treated?")

Medicines

Take all blood pressure medicines that your doctor prescribes. Know the names and doses of your medicines and how to take them. If you have questions about your medicines, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

Make sure you refill your medicines before they run out. Take your medicines exactly as your doctor directs—don't skip days or cut pills in half.

If you're having side effects from your medicines, talk with your doctor. He or she may need to adjust the doses or prescribe other medicines. You shouldn't decide on your own to stop taking your medicines.

Ongoing Care

If you have HBP, have medical checkups or tests as your doctor advises. Your doctor may need to change or add medicines to your treatment plan over time. Routine checkups allow your doctor to change your treatment right away if your blood pressure goes up again.

Keeping track of your blood pressure is important. Have your blood pressure checked on the schedule your doctor advises.

You may want to learn how to check your blood pressure at home. Your doctor can help you learn how to do this. Each time you check your own blood pressure, you should write down your numbers and the date.

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute's (NHLBI's) "My Blood Pressure Wallet Card" can help you track your blood pressure. You also can write down the names and doses of your medicines and keep track of your lifestyle changes with this handy card.

During checkups, you can ask your doctor or health care team any questions you have about your treatments. For possible questions you may want to ask your doctor, go to the NHLBI's Questions to Ask Your Doctor If You Have High Blood Pressure Web page.

High Blood Pressure and Pregnancy

Many pregnant women who have HBP have healthy babies. However, HBP can cause problems for both the mother and the fetus. HBP can harm the mother's kidneys and other organs. It also can cause the baby to be born early and with a low birth weight.

If you're thinking about having a baby and you have HBP, talk with your health care team. You can take steps to control your blood pressure before and while you're pregnant.

Some women get HBP for the first time while they're pregnant. In the most serious cases, the mother has a condition called preeclampsia (pre-eh-KLAMP-se-ah).

This condition can threaten the lives of both the mother and the unborn child. You'll need special care to reduce your risk. With such care, most women and babies have good outcomes.

Go to the NHLBI's Your Guide to Lowering High Blood Pressure Web site for more information about HBP and pregnancy.

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The Heart Truth®—a national heart disease awareness campaign for women—is sponsored by the NHLBI. The campaign's goal is to give women a personal and urgent wakeup call about their risk for heart disease. 

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August 02, 2012 Last Updated Icon

The NHLBI updates Health Topics articles on a biennial cycle based on a thorough review of research findings and new literature. The articles also are updated as needed if important new research is published. The date on each Health Topics article reflects when the content was originally posted or last revised.