Alert
Close

Think you know AARP? What you don't know about us may surprise you. Discover all the 'Real Possibilities'

HIGHLIGHTS

Open
America's Winter Escapes Sweepstakes
Introducing RealPad by AARP
You and Your Town Contest-You could win an AARP RealPad

AUTO BUYING PROGRAM

AARP Auto Buying Program

Download the ipad App

AARP-iPad-ePub-app

DRIVER SAFETY

Piggy bank on the road - AARP Driver Safety

Take the new AARP Smart Driver Course!

Contests and
Sweeps

Safe Driving in 2014 Sweepstakes

Learn how AARP Driver Safety can help you stay safe—and enter for a chance to win $1,000. See official rules. 

KEEP BRAIN ACTIVE!

AARP Games - Play Now!

AARP BOOKS

Planning for Long-Term Care for Dummies

Get expert advice on planning for your own or a relative’s future care needs.

Webinars

Learn From the Experts

Sign up now for an upcoming webinar or find materials from a past session.

Learning centers

Get smart strategies for managing health conditions.

 

Arthritis

Heart Disease

Diabetes

Most Popular

Viewed

share your thoughts

What does the health care law mean to you? Your story is important. We read and learn from every story and it helps us in our educational efforts. We may even use your comments (with permission) to brief legislators, inspire readers and more. Please share your story with us. Do

Do You Really Have High Blood Pressure?

Maybe your doctors think so. Maybe they're wrong

Beta blockers also tend to worsen wide pulse pressure.

Combining ACE (angiotensin-converting enzyme) inhibitors, such as Lotensin or Vasotec, and ARBs (angiotensin-receptor blockers), such as Diovan or Benicar, is also risky in most older patients — research shows the combination increases the risk of kidney failure and death. These should be used together only for a particular form of systolic high blood pressure related to heart valve defects.

Diuretics, commonly known as "water pills," have been around for many years and have been proven safe and effective time and again. "Diuretics are really the cornerstone of hypertension treatment," says Weintraub.

While some experts prefer using a single agent at a dose high enough to bring the numbers into line, others favor a combination — a diuretic paired with an ACE inhibitor, for example, or a diuretic combined with a CCB (calcium channel blocker).  Several of the most common pairings now come in combination pill forms, which cut down on the number of pills needed — an important advantage for anyone taking multiple medications.

Recent findings suggest that CCBs may offer a special advantage for older patients. Researchers have long assumed that controlling high blood pressure would lower the risk of memory problems and dementia in older people. But few studies found any significant benefit. Last year, however, in a study of 375 hypertensive patients 60 and older, researchers at Nancy University Hospital in France reported that people on CCBs showed improvement in memory scores. By contrast, those who took other types of drugs for their high blood pressure showed no memory gains.

Whatever your doctor prescribes, chances are your regimen will need to be adjusted over time. And even though you may need to take medication, researchers all agree that it's important to follow the familiar advice: minimize salt intake, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, maintain a healthy weight and be as physically active as possible.  

"All of those changes can mean you can get by on less medication, which means fewer side effects," says Weintraub. "And in many ways besides lowering blood pressure, you'll be a lot healthier."

Peter Jaret is a frequent contributor to AARP. He has written seven books, most recently “Nurse: A World of Care.”

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts

Processing

Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Reading eyeglasses eyemed 6 membership benefit health

Members save 25% on orders of $200 or more and get 25% off lens upgrades at glasses.com.

AARP/Walgreens Wellness Bus Stops in Clarksdale, MS

Members can get exclusive points offers from Walgreens and Duane Reade.

Member Benefits

Join or renew today! AARP members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.

Rewards for Good

Your Points Balance:

Learn More

Earn points for completing free online activities designed to enrich your life.

Find more ways to earn points

Redeem your points to save on merchandise, travel, and more.

Find more ways to redeem points