If you take hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ), you need regular checkups with your doctor. At first, visits should be scheduled once a month. If you have other conditions like heart disease or diabetes, you may need to see your doctor more often. At these visits, your doctor will track your blood pressure and ask you about side effects. Once you meet your blood pressure goals, you may only need to see your doctor every 3 to 6 months.
Your doctor may also ask you to keep track of your blood pressure at home. Some doctors, health plans, and pharmacies have high blood pressure telehealth programs. They can help you keep track of your blood pressure over the phone or Web. This is a quick way to have more frequent personal check-ins with a health provider without having to go into a doctor’s office. These steps can really help you get your blood pressure under control.
Your doctor will also do several blood tests. These are usually done within 2 to 4 weeks of starting HCTZ. If levels are fine, then they are rechecked at least once a year. Tests may include:
- Kidney function tests
- Electrolyte levels, including potassium, sodium, chloride, and bicarbonate
- Calcium levels
- Uric acid levels
Low levels of potassium occur in about 10% of people taking HCTZ. Low levels can cause symptoms such as weakness, fatigue, muscle cramps, thirst, nausea, and vomiting. Very low levels can lead to confusion, seizures, and an irregular heartbeat. This can be life-threatening. Make sure to tell your doctor right away if you have any symptoms while taking HCTZ.
If you have another condition, such as heart failure, diabetes, or kidney disease, you may need more frequent checkups. Your doctor will run tests more often since you may be at higher risk of problems.
With regular check-ups or calls, it won't be long before your blood pressure falls!