One of the most prevalent diagnoses that I see in my daily practice is hypertension, also known as blood pressure. Patients frequently ask me if they have to take these pills everyday for the rest of their lives. My goal is to shed some light on this topic and to throw some curve balls into the mix as well.
So, do you have to take your blood pressure pills for the rest of your life? Not necessarily. When people think of medical providers, they typically think of prescribing medication. However, as medical providers, we are still taught that diet and exercise are the first efforts and the most effective efforts in reducing blood pressure and maintaining overall good health. Of course, this is easier said than done. But did you know that I’ve actually taken patients off of blood pressure medication due to losing weight and maintaining a low salt/pork-free diet? Surprising, right? And guess what? They actually never had to go back on their pills! Amazing!
But, to be a pessimist, which I hate to be, there are some populations of patients that will unfortunately never be able to come off of their blood pressure pill(s). Patients in this category are usually those that are diabetic, have had a heart attack in the past, have had a stroke in the past, or have some type of other cardiac issue that requires very specific and precise control over the rhythm of their heart and their blood pressure.
Did you also know that some patients suffer from low blood pressure? Crazy, right? Some people wish they had this problem but unfortunately, low blood pressure can be a problem too and can also lead to a heart attack or stroke. We need blood flow, just in a relatively tight range of numbers. So these patients have to take a daily pill in order to raise their blood pressure. Who would’ve thought?
So the simple answer is yes and no. When we talk about medicine, we talk about personalizing medicine and treating patients as…well…you guessed it…people. Actual human beings with different bodies, different allergies, different medical histories, and different goals for their health. But before you decide what category you fit in, please, please, please talk it over with your primary care provider. They’ll shed some insight on what you should and shouldn’t be taking. And yes, you should always re-evaluate your list of medications to see what can be removed/adjusted to better suit your needs.
Here’s my prayer for you today. God, we know that we are all made in your image and that you have a plan for us that is meant to prosper us so that we may live the life you have called us to live. As we try and do that, please allow us to remain healthy and to open a discussion with our medical provider about our blood pressure. I pray that our hearts and minds are open to hearing what they say and that their wisdom comes from you. In your name we pray, amen.