Treatment of high blood pressure

An initial approach to treatment is to make lifestyle changes targeting modifiable risk factors. Lifestyle changes include:1

  • Losing weight
  • Stopping smoking
  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Getting enough physical exercise.

When lifestyle changes are not enough to control high blood pressure, your doctor will also prescribe medication or discuss further approaches with you.1

Aims of drug therapy

The aim of drug therapy is to reduce your blood pressure to a target level specified by clinical guidelines - European guidelines recommend a target blood pressure of less than 140/90 mmHg.1 However, less than 50% of people who are on medication have blood pressure at, or below, target levels.2 So if you are taking blood pressure medication please check with your doctor to ensure that it is lowering blood pressure sufficiently to meet the targets set.

It is important to follow the drug regimen prescribed by your doctor. If for any reason you fail to do so, you should always tell your doctor, so that he or she can include that information in their assessment of your progress on treatment.

Types of drug therapy

Several types of drug are available to treat high blood pressure, including:1

  • Calcium channel blockers (also called calcium antagonists)
  • Angiotensin-converting-enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
  • Angiotensin-receptor blockers (ARBs)
  • Diuretics
  • Beta-blockers.

Sometimes your doctor will need to prescribe two or more drugs to bring blood pressure down to a healthy level. This is because each drug class achieves its effect in a different way, with the combined activities resulting in an enhanced blood-pressure-lowering effect.1


1. Mancia G, et al. Eur Heart J. 2013;34(28):2159-219.
2. Chow CK, et al. JAMA. 2013:310:959·68.