Simple lifestyle changes can help reduce high blood pressure, although some people may need to take medicine as well.
Your GP can advise you about changes you can make to your lifestyle and discuss whether they think you'd benefit from medicine.
This patient decision aid (PDF, 132kb) can also help you to understand your treatment options.
Everyone with high blood pressure is advised to make healthy lifestyle changes.
Your doctor will carry out some blood and urine tests, and ask questions about your health to determine your risk of other problems:
There are some changes you could make to your lifestyle to reduce high blood pressure.
Some of these will lower your blood pressure in a matter of weeks, while others may take longer.
You can take these steps today, regardless of whether or not you're taking blood pressure medicines.
In fact, by making these changes early on you may be able to avoid needing medicines.
Several types of medicine can be used to help control high blood pressure.
Many people need to take a combination of different medicines.
You may need to take blood pressure medicine for the rest of your life. But your doctor might be able to reduce or stop your treatment if your blood pressure stays under control for several years.
It's really important to take your medicine as directed. If you miss doses, it will not work as well.
The medicine will not necessarily make you feel any different, but this does not mean it's not working.
Medicines used to treat high blood pressure can have side effects, but most people do not get any.
If you do get side effects, do not stop taking your medicine. Talk to your doctor, who may advise changing your medicine.
Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors reduce blood pressure by relaxing your blood vessels.
ARBs work in a similar way to ACE inhibitors. They're often recommended if ACE inhibitors cause troublesome side effects.
Possible side effects include dizziness, headaches, and cold or flu-like symptoms.
Calcium channel blockers reduce blood pressure by widening your blood vessels.
Possible side effects include headaches, swollen ankles and constipation.
Drinking grapefruit juice while taking some calcium channel blockers can increase your risk of side effects.
Sometimes known as water pills, diuretics work by flushing excess water and salt from the body through your pee.
They're often used if calcium channel blockers cause troublesome side effects.
Possible side effects include dizziness when standing up, increased thirst, needing to go to the toilet frequently, and a rash.
You might also get low potassium and low sodium after long-term use.
Beta blockers can reduce blood pressure by making your heart beat more slowly and with less force.
They used to be a popular treatment for high blood pressure, but now tend to be used only when other treatments have not worked.
This is because beta blockers are considered less effective than other blood pressure medicines.
Possible side effects include dizziness, headaches, tiredness, and cold hands and feet.
The target blood pressure reading for the over-80s is below 150/90 mmHg when it's measured in the clinic or surgery, and below 145/85 mmHg for home readings.
While there are definite benefits from taking medicines to reduce blood pressure if you're under the age of 80, it's less clear it's useful if you're over 80.
It's now thought that if you reach 80 while you're taking medicine for high blood pressure, it's fine to continue treatment provided it's still helping you and is not causing side effects.
If you're diagnosed with high blood pressure and you're aged over 80, your doctor will also consider your other health risk factors when deciding whether to give you treatment for the high blood pressure.