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Taking blood pressure medication

After being diagnosed with high blood pressure, a doctor may prescribe medication to help manage the condition, as well as recommending other measures, such as managing weight, a healthy diet and taking exercise.

Make a list of all of your medications

The goals of blood pressure medication are to lower your blood pressure back to normal levels, to be easy to take, and to have few side effects, or none at all.

Your doctor will know about medication already prescribed for other conditions, but will also need to know about over-the-counter products used, including 'natural' or herbal remedies.

Know the possible side effects

Each type of high blood pressure medication has possible side effects. Some side effects are temporary, some are permanent.

Some side effects are bothersome, some are dangerous. Ask your doctor or pharmacist these questions about each of your high blood pressure medications:

  • What side effects might occur? Which are common and which are rare?
  • What should I do if I notice side effects?
  • Are there medicines, food or drinks that I should avoid while taking this medication?
  • What are serious side effects that I need to be aware of?

Take the medication exactly as prescribed

High blood pressure medication can work only if you take it exactly as your doctor has prescribed it. So you need to take the right amount at the right times every day. Ask your doctor or pharmacist these questions:

  • How much of the medicine should I take?
  • How often should I take it?
  • Are there special instructions such as to take the medication with food?
  • What should I do if I miss a dose?

Make it a habit

It's easier to take your high blood pressure medication exactly as prescribed when you make it a part of your daily routine. Try some of these ideas to help you remember to take your medication:

  • Combine taking your medication with another daily routine such as brushing your teeth or having breakfast.
  • Every time you take your medication mark it down on a calendar or in a notebook. This also gives you a record you can show your doctor so you can both determine how well the medication is working.
  • Place reminders in key spots. Sticky notes are great - they come in a variety of colours and shapes to get your attention. Put reminder notes in places you're likely to see them such as on your bathroom mirror or by the kitchen sink.
  • Get a family member or friend call or e-mail you to remind you to take your medication.
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