Pharmacists use a variety of medications to lower blood pressure in addition to ‘lifestyle factor modification’. Increased salt intake causes the kidneys to try to push more salt out of the body by releasing hormones that increase the blood pressure to try to get more blood through the kidneys. Exercise (especially ‘cardio’) reduces blood pressure over time by a number of ways, the most important of which is increasing the efficiency of blood flow in muscles and vessels. Increased muscle tone also means that muscles need less blood to function at the same level.
One factor to keep in mind is that exercise is very important to lower blood pressure over time, however when exercising, blood pressure increases to make sure that the muscles, lungs and brain get enough blood which is why we require patients to sit down for ten minutes prior to testing blood pressure to allow the body to get back to a resting state, otherwise the results will be incorrect.
Smoking tobacco increases blood pressure by two main pathways: nicotine shrinks blood vessels which increases blood pressure just like squeezing a balloon, and the carbon monoxide from smoke binds up blood cells which stops them transporting oxygen to cells, which means that you need more blood to get the same amount of oxygen around the body.
Using medications to lower blood pressure is usually the next step when lifestyle modification is not enough. Most blood pressure medications block different systems which the body uses to control blood pressure, which is why it is common for patients to be on more than one blood pressure medication. These medications often work really well in conjunction with each other, and using comparatively lower doses of multiple medicines often means we can cut down on side effects instead of giving a huge dose of a single drug.
The pharmacists at UFS are experts on medications and are always available to discuss your individual therapy. We are more than happy to explain in plain language how each of your medications work, possible side effects and also to help with non-drug therapies as discussed above.