Blood Pressure: Lower Yours

April 16, 2008 8:36:19 AM PDT
About 70 million Americans -- or one in four -- have elevated blood pressure, but half of them don't know it. High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a reading of 140 over 90 or higher. Normal blood pressure is 120 over 85 or lower. Anything between those two readings is considered "pre-hypertension." The onset of high blood pressure usually occurs between 25 years of age and 55 years of age. Doctors say it's important for those with pre-hypertension to take action and lower their blood pressure before they are older. There are usually no signs or symptoms when someone has high blood pressure; that's why it's important to have your blood pressure checked regularly.

STEPS TO CONTROL IT: There are things you can do to lower or control your blood pressure. Patients should lose weight, stop smoking, reduce alcohol intake, reduce salt intake and reduce stress levels. Basically, adopting a healthy lifestyle can have an impact on your blood pressure. Studies show that the DASH diet is effective at reducing high blood pressure. The DASH diet stands for Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension. The DASH diet includes lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and very little salt and fat.

MEDICATIONS: There are blood pressure medications that can help lower one's blood pressure. However, most medications have side effects. Giovanni Baula, M.D., an internist at Suncoast Medical Clinic says the challenge is hypertension does not have symptoms, so when patients start on a medication and feel worse, they are not inclined to stay on it. However, there is a new drug called Tekturna (aliskiren). Studies show Tekturna has fewer side effects but is comparable in lowering overall blood pressure.

TEKTURNA: Tekturna is the first high blood pressure medication approved by the FDA in more than 10 years. Tekturna is known as a renin inhibitor. Renin is an enzyme produced by your kidneys that starts a cascade of chemical steps that increases blood pressure. Tekturna works by reducing the ability of renin to begin this process. Doctors say Tekturna is unique because it acts earlier in your body's blood pressure process than other medications. Another benefit is Tekturna is "cleaner," meaning there are no side effects. In studies, patients on the placebo reported more side effects than those on Tekturna. The only side effect observed in studies was diarrhea and that was only in two percent of patients. Another benefit of Tekturna is it works faster in your body -- meaning there is a good level in a patient's body in one week compared to two to four weeks with other medications. Tekturna is taken once a day. Studies show Tekturna stays in the body longer, even if a patient misses four days of medication, it is still working in their body. Tekturna can be used alone or in combination with other medications. Studies show it's most effective when used with a diuretic or water pill.