Ask the doctor: How did my blood pressure suddenly become normal?

Q. After being diagnosed with high blood pressure several years ago, I started taking diltiazem and Atacand. The results were good, giving me an average blood pressure of 110/65. I recently developed gastroenteritis and aspiration pneumonia. While I was in the hospital, my blood pressure got so low I was told to stop taking these medications. I have been off them since, and my blood pressure has remained normal, averaging 105/65. How can this be? Will high blood pressure return?

A. Congratulations on getting your blood pressure under such great control — however you managed to do it! It is unlikely that the bout of gastroenteritis did anything miraculous. Without knowing anything else about your situation, my guess is that you have been making lifestyle changes over the years that have been good for your blood pressure. Losing weight, increasing exercise, quitting smoking, cutting back on salt and alcohol, and adopting a healthful eating plan like the DASH diet can reduce, or even eliminate, the need for medications to control blood pressure.

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