Managing high blood pressure with prescription medication

high blood pressure monitor

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, affects millions of adults in the U.S. and is a leading cause of heart disease and stroke.¹ 

For some, diet and lifestyle changes are enough to manage high blood pressure, but others may need to take prescription medications to help.  

Let’s explore what blood pressure is and why you might need medication to treat it.  

What is blood pressure? 

Your blood pressure is the force that drives blood to all the areas of your body. Your heart pumps the blood, and your arteries carry and distribute it. When your blood pressure is high, the force of blood pushing against your artery walls can damages those arteries over time.² This can cause your arteries to become clogged or burst, increasing your risk of having a heart attack or stroke.  

As you age, your risk of developing high blood pressure increases, which is why getting blood pressure readings from your doctor about once per year is important.³ Blood pressure readings measure 2 numbers—your systolic (top number) and diastolic pressure (bottom number).²

Systolic pressure is the amount of force in your arteries when your heart contracts and pumps blood out to the body. Diastolic pressure is the amount of force in your arteries when your heart beats and rests. These 2 numbers determine the health of your blood pressure.  

Normal blood pressure is 120/80, or “120 over 80.”³ If your top and bottom numbers are higher than 120 and 80, you’re getting into the high blood pressure range. 

Causes and risks of high blood pressure 

Watching for high blood pressure can be tricky because in most adults the cause can’t be identified.³ However, there are common factors that can increase the risk, including:⁴ 

  • Certain chronic conditions, such as kidney disease or obstructive sleep apnea 
  • Certain common medications, such as Advil and Aleve 
  • Family history of high blood pressure 
  • Being overweight or lack of exercise 
  • Smoking or vaping 
  • Air pollution 
  • Eating too much salt 
  • Drinking too much alcohol 
  • Constant high stress 

Left untreated, high blood pressure can lead to:¹ 

  • Stroke  
  • Heart attack 
  • Heart failure or disease 
  • Kidney disease 
  • Vision loss 
  • Sexual dysfunction 

Getting the right treatment 

Blood pressure medications lower your blood pressure in different ways. Some remove extra fluid in the body and others block hormones that increase blood pressure.⁵ 

While there are many types of medication that can be prescribed for high blood pressure and related conditions, your doctor will probably prescribe one of these common types: 

Diuretics lower blood pressure by lowering blood volume. They promote urine creation to help the kidneys get rid of extra water and sodium in your body. Some diuretics are furosemide (Lasix), hydrochlorothiazide HCTZ (Esidrix, Hydrodiuril, Microzide) and indapamide (Lozol). 

Beta blockers lower blood pressure by stopping hormones that stimulate your heart, reducing heart rate. Examples include atenolol (Tenormin), metroprolol tartrate (Lopressor) and propranolol (Inderal). 

Angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors lower blood pressure by making the body produce less angiotensin II, a hormone that causes blood vessels to constrict or narrow. Examples include lisinopil (Prinivil, Zestril) and Ramipril (Altace). 

Angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs) lower blood pressure by stopping angiotensin II from binding to receptors sites in the blood vessels, which causes those blood vessels to narrow. Examples include losartan potassium (Cozaar), irbesarten (Avapro) and valsartan (Diovan). 

Calcium channel blockers lower blood pressure by causing the heart to beat with less force and relax blood vessels. They block calcium—which helps muscles move—from entering the heart’s smooth muscle tissue. These include verapamil hydrocholoride (Calan SR, Isoptin SR) and amlodipine besylate (Norvasc, Lotrel) 

What to do with your prescription 

If you have high blood pressure, your doctor will create a treatment plan to address your needs that may involve lifestyle changes, diet and exercise. It could also include 1 or more types of medication. If your doctor prescribes a medication for you, you can fill it with CenterWell Pharmacy and get it shipped, safely and securely, right to your home. 


  1. High blood pressure,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, last accessed May 2, 2024. 
  2. High Blood Pressure (Hypertension),” Cleveland Clinic, last accessed May 6, 2024. 
  3. High blood pressure (hypertension),” Mayo Clinic, last accessed May 6, 2024. 
  4. 12 Surprising Things That Can Raise Your Blood Pressure,’ AARP, last accessed May 6, 2024. 
  5. A list of 11 blood pressure medications,” Healthline, last accessed May 2, 2024. 

Disclaimer: This material is provided for informational use only and should not be construed as medical advice or used in place of consulting a licensed medical professional. You should consult with your doctor to determine what is right for you. 

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