Question: My doctor started me on a blood pressure medication last year and now my blood pressure is normal. Can I stop taking the medication?
Answer: Well, what is it that we do do when a person's blood pressure is normal? If a blood pressure medicine brings your blood pressure to normal, it's wonderful; unfortunately though, it doesn't correct it permanently -- so you have to continue the medication. Although physicians, as they accustom themselves to your pattern as a patient, oftentimes can back-titrate a medicine to see if your blood pressure returns to its baseline values.
There's always a bit of wisdom in doing that; one thing we know about blood pressure is we don't really eliminate it, but we can change its characteristics and we can lessen its severity with long-term treatment.
Second point to remember is that sometimes, when a patient is diagnosed as having hypertension, there was a superimposed condition which was contributing to the blood pressure. So a good example of that would be somebody who's overweight, who all of a sudden, now drops 20 pounds -- that 20-pound weight reduction may be the basis for stopping the medicine and blood pressure not going back up. So I think the doctor has to look at the original diagnosis, the patient has to understand that the original diagnosis doesn't always change; sometimes it can, but the patient should not be stopping the medicines just because the reading's normal.
Back titration is a technique by which a physician slowly reduces the dose of a medication to determine the minimum effective dose in a particular patient.