The health care provider will ask you questions about your use of drugs known to affect blood pressure measurement.
Repeated blood pressure measurements can confirm the diagnosis. Blood pressure that is consistently high is considered hypertension.
Two factors determine blood pressure measurements. Systolic blood pressure is the "top" number. It measures the pressure in the blood vessels when the heart beats. Diastolic blood pressure is the "bottom" number. It is the pressure in blood vessels when the heart is at rest.
Normal blood pressure is defined as a systolic (top) pressure of less than 120 mmHg, and a diastolic (bottom) pressure of less than 80 mmHg. A consistent rate of more than 140 mmHg systolic and more than 90 mmHg diastolic is considered high blood pressure.
Systolic BP between 130 and 140 mmHg and/or diastolic BP between 80 and 90 mmHg are considered pre-hypertension.
Blood tests may be done to determine the levels of medications that may be causing the high blood pressure.
The goal of treatment is to reduce your blood pressure to below 140/90 (below 130/80 if you have diabetes or kidney disease). This will lower the risk of complications.
If possible, stop taking the substance that caused your hypertension. Your health care provider may adjust your treatment if your current medications are causing hypertension and you cannot stop taking these drugs.
Medications that may be used to lower blood pressure include:
Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
Angiotensin receptor blockers (ARB)
Calcium channel blockers
Hydralazine, doxazosin, and prazosin
Have your blood pressure checked regularly (as recommended by your health care provider) to monitor its response to treatment.
If you have high blood pressure, you will have regularly scheduled appointments with your doctor.
In between appointments, call your health care provider right away if you have any of the following symptoms:
Nausea and vomiting
Shortness of breath
Be careful when taking any medication. Ask your health care provider or pharmacist about the effects, and whether the medication might interact with other drugs you are taking (even over-the-counter medications).
In people with hypertension, lowering salt (sodium) intake may be recommended. Products containing sodium (such as salt, MSG, and baking soda) may cause or worsen high blood pressure in some people.
If your doctor suspects drug-induced hypertension, it is important to discuss all drug use -- including alcohol and other recreational drugs -- so that the condition can be properly diagnosed.
Kaplan NM. Systemic hypertension: therapy. In: Libby P, Bonow RO, Mann DL, Zipes DP. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 41.
Victor RG, Kaplan NM. Systemic hypertension: mechanisms and diagnosis. In: Libby P, Bonow RO, Mann DL, Zipes DP. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 40.
Issam Mikati, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine. Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.