If you have high blood pressure, your doctor might prescribe medicine to keep it in a healthy range. Learn the facts about blood pressure medication, including potential side effects, and how to take your medicine safely.\nWhat Is High Blood Pressure?\nWhen your heart beats, it pushes blood out into your blood vessels. Your blood pressure is the amount of force that your blood exerts on your blood vessels.\nIf you have high blood pressure, your blood pushes against your blood vessels with too much force. Over time, this can lead to serious health problems like heart disease and stroke.\nNormal vs. High Blood Pressure\nBlood pressure is shown in two numbers: systolic and diastolic.\nThe systolic number measures the pressure of your blood in your blood vessels when the heart beats. The diastolic number measures the pressure of your blood in your blood vessels when the heart rests between beats. For example, a blood pressure reading would be 120\/80.\n\nIf your blood pressure is 120\/80 mmHg most of the time, it is considered normal.\nIf your blood pressure is above 120\/80 but below 140\/90 most of the time, it is considered pre-hypertension\nIf your blood pressure is 140\/90 or higher most of the time, it is considered high blood pressure, also known as hypertension\n\nWhat Medicines Treat High Blood Pressure?\nYour doctor will recommend treatment based on your:\n\nMedical history\nLifestyle\nFamily history\n\nIn addition to lifestyle changes, like eating a heart-healthy diet, getting regular exercise, quitting smoking, and learning healthy ways to cope with stress, your doctor might prescribe medicine to get your blood pressure into a healthy range.\nMany types of medicines treat high blood pressure, and it’s not unusual for someone to take two or three medicines in combination. Some of the most commonly prescribed medicines include:\n\nDiuretics, which help remove extra sodium and water from your body. These medicines are usually used in combination with others.\nBeta blockers, which help your heart beat slower and with less force.\nAngiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACE inhibitors), which lower the amount of a certain hormone and enzyme in your body that narrows your blood vessels.\nAngiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs), which work similarly to ACE inhibitors.\nCalcium channel blockers, which keep calcium from entering cells and helps the heart pump with less force.\n\nLess common blood pressure medicines include:\n\nAlpha blockers, which help relax your blood vessels.\nCentrally acting drugs, which help your brain and nervous system to relax your blood vessels.\nAsodilators, which help your blood vessel walls relax.\n\nBlood Pressure Medicine Side Effects\nMany\u00a0medicines have side effects, and most will go away over time. Some of the most common side effects of high blood pressure medications\u00a0include:\n\nSkin rash\nNausea or vomiting\nAnxiety\nDizziness or light-headedness\nCoughing\nDiarrhea or constipation\nFeeling tired, weak, or like you have no energy\nHeadache\n\nIf you’re struggling with side effects, talk to your doctor. In some cases, changing the dose or the time of day you take the medicine can help.\nStaying safe while using blood pressure medicines\nIf your doctor recommends blood pressure medication, make sure that you:\n\nTell your doctor about all of the other medicines, vitamins, minerals, and supplements you take. This can help your doctor figure out what is safe for you.\nAsk your doctor what to do if you need to take an over-the-counter (OTC) medication, like aspirin, allergy medicine, or cold medicine. Some OTC drugs\u00a0are not safe for people with high blood pressure.\nFind out about the side effects of your prescribed medicine and what to do if you have them.\nNever stop taking your medicine or change the dose without talking to your doctor first.\n\nVisit the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute or call 1-855-UPMC-HVI to learn more.