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If you have high blood pressure, it is important that you:
- Keep track of your blood pressure (See NHLBI's "My Blood Pressure Wallet Card" for help tracking your blood pressure ). Learn to take your own blood pressure at home or have it regularly checked by a health care professional. Write it down each time (with date).
- Talk to your health care provider about the names and dosages of your blood pressure medicines and how to take them.
- If you think you're having other problems (side effects) from taking your medicine, talk to your doctor. Another medicine may be better for you, or the problem may not be related to the medicine.
- Refill your blood pressure medicines before they run out.
- Take your blood pressure medicines exactly as directed—don't skip days or cut pills in half.
- Keep your followup appointments with your health care provider.
- Choose healthier habits—for example, eat a heart healthy diet, get regular physical activity, and don't smoke.
- Ask your doctor or health care provider questions about your treatment and what you need to do to take care of yourself and lower your high blood pressure.
Women and High Blood Pressure
In some women, blood pressure can increase if they use birth control pills, become pregnant, or take hormone therapy (HT) during menopause.
Oral Contraceptives (Birth Control Pills)
Women taking birth control pills usually have a small increase in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. If you have high blood pressure and are using birth control pills, get your blood pressure checked regularly. Talk to your doctor about a possible rise in blood pressure and what you can do about it.
If you have high blood pressure, are age 35 or older, and also smoke, you should not take birth control pills unless you quit smoking. Women age 35 and older who smoke and use birth control pills are more likely to develop heart disease or have a stroke. High blood pressure also raises your chances of stroke and heart disease.
If you are age 35 or older, are healthy, do not smoke, and your high blood pressure is controlled, it may be safe for you to use birth control pills. Ask your doctor if birth control pills are safe for you.