What You Should Know About High Blood Pressure Pills

Three key factors to consider when choosing - and taking - high blood pressure medication

It’s important to be aware that high blood pressure pills can have negative interactions with over-the-counter drugs and even certain foods

Taking pills for high blood pressure sounds like a simple solution, but several factors can actually impede their effectiveness

A recent U.S. survey shows roughly a third of the population is hypertensive, and in baby boomers and seniors, that’s likely closer to 50 per cent. But taking high blood pressure medication, while a seemingly simple solution, can be more complicated than just popping a daily pill.

The Best Time to Take High Blood Pressure Medication

When you take your pills might matter a great deal. An Italian study found that many people might get a better 24-hour blood pressure response if they took their pills at night instead of in the daytime. But, as always, no one should change their pill-taking schedule without first discussing it with their family doc.

Bear in mind, too, that even if taking your pills in the evening might be beneficial, some high blood presure pills have a diuretic effect. As a typical aging male who knows the way to his home’s toilets better than he knows the way to his bank, I’d settle for a slightly higher BP if it meant no extra nighttime visits to the bathroom.

Drug Interactions

There’s also a long list of potential drug interactions that can occur with HBP meds, even potential interactions with some over-the-counter products, which is why you should always ask the pharmacist how a product you pick up on your own, even a decongestant, might interact with the drugs you’re taking.

Then there’s the issue of how what you eat or drink might affect your HBP medications.

For example, an enzyme in grapefruit (and some other citrus fruits) changes how your body breaks down some HBP pills. This can, in turn, lead to (dangerously?) high levels of those drugs. So, if you love your morning grapefruit, check this out with your pharmacist or doctor.

Weight and High Blood Pressure Medications

And if all that weren’t enough to dislodge the last few non-grey hairs sticking up from your quickly balding skull, a recent study in the journal Lancet claims that how much you weigh can have an important bearing on which HBP pills you should take.

In this study, normal-weight people taking diuretics, very popular first-choice drugs for high blood pressure, were significantly more likely to suffer an adverse event (heart attack, stroke, even sudden death) than either obese people taking a diuretic or any normal-weight person taking another type of blood pressure pill.

Bottom line: If your blood pressure is elevated, do a lot of reading — and arguing — before you settle on which drugs to take. And when. And with what.

Dr. Art Hister is a medical writer and health analyst for Global TV.

Originally published in TVW. For daily programming updates and on-screen Entertainment news, subscribe to the free TVW e-newsletters, or purchase a subscription to the weekly magazine.