Harvard Heart Letter

Once-a-day blood pressure medication

Ask the doctor

Q. I take my blood pressure medication twice a day. Or at least I am supposed to, but I sometimes forget the second dose because my evenings tend to be really busy. What can I do?

A. One idea is to leave a sticky note on your bathroom mirror or near your bed as a reminder. Or try using an alarm (either a traditional alarm clock or one on a smartphone) that rings close to the time when you normally go to bed. You might also consider taking the second dose with dinner, assuming your doctor or pharmacist says it is okay to take your particular medicine with food.

An easier and perhaps more reliable option is to ask your doctor about switching to a long-acting blood pressure drug that only needs to be taken once a day. Many different types are available, including long-acting calcium-channel blockers such as amlodipine (Norvasc, generics). But it's important to make sure that your blood pressure is still well controlled over the entire day. If you don't already have a home blood pressure monitor, get one. Check your blood pressure a few times a day (ideally in the morning, at midday, and in the evening) for several days to see if your readings are fairly consistent throughout the day on the new medication regimen.

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