Fed Up! – When Can I Stop Taking My High Blood Pressure Drugs?
January 24, 2021
“When can I stop taking my high blood pressure drugs ?” is a question many hypertensives have either asked or wondered about………
Let’s start today’s chat by setting some background:
High BP (Hypertension) is one of the biggest risks for serious ill health and death. Your BP is the essential force your body needs to ensure blood moves around it effectively to do its job.
If the BP gets excessively high, the following problems could develop
These make emergency hospital visits more likely, hospital admissions, and of course, personal and public health care costs
A lot of health practitioners agree that (Based on the 2017 ACC guidelines), normal adult BP should be less than 120/80 mm Hg. (US)
•US – Stage 1 (Earliest stage) HTN is classified as systolic BP 130–139 or diastolic BP 80–89 mm Hg.
•UK – Stage 1 (earliest stage) hypertension is a clinic blood pressure of between 140/90 mmHg and 160/100 mmHg (if it’s measured in the clinic/hospital) and ambulatory daytime average or home blood pressure average of 135/85 mmHg or higher.
Hypertension is a global health problem and can affect nearly everyone regardless of age/gender/occupation, or social status.
What CAUSES high blood pressure to start?
In most cases – we do NOT KNOW. However, it is more common in:
In a smaller number of cases, we do know some conditions where Blood Pressure goes up – a few examples:
The following conditions are linked to developing serious Kidney disease • Conditions affecting the Heart and Blood Vessels (Cardiovascular disease) •Proteinuria (conditions where there is protein in the urine) • Acute kidney injury – dehydration/shock/ drugs • Hypertension • Diabetes • Smoking • Being from an African, African-Caribbean or Asian family origin • Long term use of NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) • Untreated urinary outflow tract obstruction
After a diagnosis of high blood pressure, we want people to understand that, in most cases, treatment is long-term.
Generally, people will take these medicines for several years to maintain blood pressure control.
Most times, high blood pressure in the very early stages does not have any symptoms – making it difficult for people to reconcile taking daily tablets when they don’t feel ill.
It’s very worrying that despite knowing that high BP can cause serious illness, we are still not succeeding around the world in getting good control of hypertension.
Now, what are these barriers?
As you can see from this image, several factors can lead to poor blood pressure control, such as See photo on next page – lack of access to medicines and receiving consistent care from HCW, including the type of medicines they should have and other treatments.
Another important barrier to getting control is the behaviour of people with high blood pressure when it comes to how they take their drugs.
Out of those reasons, let’s look at the behaviour of some people with high BP and why they stop taking their BP Medicines
This is an essential part of controlling high blood pressure.
In many people, a combination of drug and non-drug treatment is essential to achieve our goals.
In patients with suspected or diagnosed hypertension, lifestyle advice and support can help us make healthy lifestyle changes. They include regular exercise, a healthy diet, low dietary sodium intake, and reduced alcohol intake (if excessive). Other measures include avoiding too much coffee and other caffeine-rich products and to stop smoking.
Essentially, NOT without advice from your Doctor.
Only in association with your Dr – the general practitioner or specialist should you stop taking your blood pressure drugs.
AVOID one-sided decisions or from people who are NOT qualified (not a reputable doctor, nurse pharmacist or other recognised similar health practitioner).
These are a few circumstances when people can come off their drugs for treatment.
After having your baby
After birth, for a woman who had high blood pressure in pregnancy, your antihypertensives should be reviewed 2 weeks after birth.
This is part of the postnatal checks and will include blood pressure monitoring.
If you were treated for hypertension during pregnancy, you should have a medical review 6-8 weeks after birth with the GP or specialist.
In some cases, the drugs can be stopped, while in other cases, it’s necessary to continue taking blood pressure drugs.
After treating the cause – secondary hypertension
If the issue causing the blood pressure to rise (e.g. from drug-related causes like steroids or oral contraceptive pills) stops, it is possible to come off the medicine. You will still require regular monitoring of the blood pressure (and follow-up).
Using Natural (non-drug) treatment ALONE
This option is NOT FOR EVERYONE.(see above segment on non-drug treatments.
Even if you want to use non-drug treatments alone, speak to your doctor about your preferences. Continuous monitoring is necessary to know if the method is working for you or not.
Medication side effects
Different blood pressure drugs can cause so many different side effects. While your doctor should let you know what to expect with any new medicine, you must always ask as well.
If you do develop any side effects, please discuss them with your doctor. Many of the side effects may be irritating more than harmful, but regardless, they could still prevent you from taking the treatment properly.
Illness That Could Severely Reduce Your Blood Pressure
If you are very ill with another problem that could affect your blood pressure, continuing the tablets may lead to very low blood pressure.
A good example is when you experience excess vomiting and diarrhoea which could cause dehydration. This alone can reduce your blood pressure very much.
Your doctor will therefore like you to recover from this to avoid the risk of reducing the blood pressure too much if you take the tablets.
While it is correct that high Blood Pressure occurs more with advancing age in some people, in others, blood pressure reduces.
We think this may be due to losing weight (muscle and fat) with age; or chronic medical conditions whose toll can affect blood pressure.
This means they may have low blood pressure at rest and will no longer need the drugs to lower their blood pressure.
In fact, if they do continue, they may develop side effects like dizziness, making them faint or fall, kidney problems or heart disease.
In this group, we would rather stop the drugs than risk worsening their health.
Having open discussions about your preference with your doctor (or nurse/pharmacist) and being confident of the benefits you will get from your drugs is key to your ongoing wellbeing.
So if you have been contemplating – when can I stop taking my high blood pressure drugs, it’s a valid question.
Hopefully, some of the reasons we looked at here can help.
Trying to find out why people stop taking their drugs is important
If you feel or have felt like this before – please let us know in the comments section what your reasons are (were). Stay Well.
Editing by AskAwayHealth Team
All AskAwayHealth articles are written by practising Medical Practitioners to help promote quality healthcare.
The advice in our material is not meant to replace a qualified healthcare practitioner’s management of your specific condition.
Please get in touch with a health practitioner to discuss your condition, or reach us directly here.
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Image Credits: Canva
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