Stopping Blood Pressure Medication

Your healthcare provider can help you make an informed decision about treatment.

Woman checking blood pressure in living room.

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Lifestyle changes can help you control high blood pressure (hypertension).

Some people who make positive changes no longer need hypertension medication. But you shouldn't just stop taking your medication.

This article looks at what to consider before stopping hypertension drugs, when you shouldn't go off of them, and how to make the best decision for your health.

Beneficial Lifestyle Changes

Lifestyle changes that may lower blood pressure include:

  • Exercising
  • Losing weight
  • Eating healthy
  • Giving up smoking

Hypertension Doctor Discussion Guide

Get our printable guide for your next healthcare provider's appointment to help you ask the right questions.

hypertension-discussion-guide

Can I Stop My Hypertension Medication?

Whether its safe to stop your blood pressure medication depends on what's causing your hypertension.

The factors that contribute to high blood pressure generally fall into two categories: modifiable and unmodifiable.

Modifiable Factors

Modifiable factors are things you can change. Those include:

Addressing one or more of these factors may help you control your blood pressure.

Unmodifiable Factors

Causes of high blood pressure that you can't change include:

However, treating conditions that contribute to high blood pressure may help lower it.

More than 90% of the time, the exact cause of hypertension is unknown. It's called "primary" or "essential" hypertension.

What to Consider

The decision to stop blood pressure drugs needs to be based on:

  • Blood pressure readings
  • Your overall health
  • Possible contributing factors and whether they're modifiable

It may be time to discuss a trial period without medication if:

  • Your healthcare provider thinks your high blood pressure is due to modifiable factors
  • You make positive changes in those areas
  • Your blood pressure readings have improved

Research has yet to establish exactly how long you should have normal blood pressure before stopping meds. But studies suggest waiting anywhere from six months to two years.

If you stop the meds and your blood pressure goes up, you can always go back on them. Even so, you should continue with positive lifestyle changes.

Recap

Some factors that contribute to hypertension are modifiable (diet, exercise). Others aren't (age, genetics). Positive lifestyle changes may help you be able to go off of blood pressure meds. You and your healthcare provider should make this decision together.

When Not to Stop Medication

If your high blood pressure is due to non-modifiable factors, you may not be able to stop taking your medication.

This is especially true as you get older. Age is a risk factor for hypertension. It also makes it harder to manage chronic illness.

What Is Normal Blood Pressure?

In 2017, the American College of Cardiology lowered what's considered the normal blood pressure range. The upper limit used to be 140/90 mm Hg. It's now 120/80 mm Hg.

Making Informed Decisions

Making healthier lifestyle choices is about more than avoiding medications. It's also about improving the quality and length of your life.

Despite lifestyle changes, your healthcare provider may not want you to stop taking blood pressure medication. Listen to their reasons and try not to get discouraged.

You aren't being punished. And your provider's recommendation doesn't necessarily mean you're in poor health. Your provider may just believe the benefits of treatment outweigh the potential risks of stopping.

You might not like taking pharmaceutical drugs. But know there's nothing inherently "bad" about taking hypertension medications.

Antihypertensive medications aren't addictive. The side effects are generally manageable.

You have several kinds of blood pressure medication to choose from. Research suggests different types work for different people. Your healthcare provider can help you decide which medication is best for you.

Summary

You can change some factors that contribute to high blood pressure, such as eating too much salt or smoking. You can't change others. These include age and chronic conditions.

With modifiable factors, lifestyle changes may help you get off meds. Talk about this with your healthcare provider

With non-modifiable factors, you may not be able to stop taking medication. Listen to your provider even if you disagree.

Blood pressure drugs are generally safe and are non-addictive. If one doesn't work well for you, a different type might.

A Word From Verywell

Even if lifestyle changes have improved your blood pressure, never stop taking your medication without talking to your healthcare provider.

If you don't agree with your healthcare provider's advice, you can get a second opinion. You have the right to make decisions about your health. Just make sure you're well informed before making changes.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How can you safely stop taking blood pressure medication?

    Always check with your healthcare provider before stopping blood pressure medication. Quitting abruptly may cause serious health risks.

    For example, the beta-blocker propranolol may cause chest pain or a heart attack if it's stopped suddenly.

  • How can your healthcare provider help you wean off blood pressure medication?

    Your healthcare provider can monitor your blood pressure over several weeks while slowly decreasing your dosage.

    You may need to be at a lower dose for a while before stopping completely. Ask your healthcare provider when it's safe to quit taking it.

8 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Yaxley J, Thambar S. Resistant hypertension: An approach to management in primary care. Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care. 2015;4(2):193. doi:10.4103/2249-4863.154630

  3.  van der Wardt V, Harrison JK, Welsh T, Conroy S, Gladman J. Withdrawal of antihypertensive medication. Journal of Hypertension. 2017;35(9):1742-1749. doi:10.1097/hjh.0000000000001405

  4. Sun Z. Aging, arterial stiffness, and hypertension. Hypertension. 2015;65(2):252-256. doi:10.1161/hypertensionaha.114.03617

  5.  Benson J. Patients’ decisions about whether or not to take antihypertensive drugs: qualitative study. BMJ. 2002;325(7369):873-873. doi:10.1136/bmj.325.7369.873

  6. Suchard MA, Schuemie MJ, Krumholz HM, et al. Comprehensive comparative effectiveness and safety of first-line antihypertensive drug classes: a systematic, multinational, large-scale analysis. The Lancet. 2019;394(10211):1816-1826. doi:10.1016/s0140-6736(19)32317-7

  7. National Institutes of Health, U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus. Propranolol (cardiovascular).

  8. Tampa Cardiovascular Associates. Never just stop taking blood pressure medication.

Additional Reading

By Craig O. Weber, MD
Craig O. Weber, MD, is a board-certified occupational specialist who has practiced for over 36 years.