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Conventional Medications Used for Controlling High Blood Pressure

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Story at-a-glance -

  • Antihypertensives come with a laundry list of side effects so if you’re planning to include them in your treatment plan, make sure that you ask your physician about the side effects
  • Adopting a healthy lifestyle habit and following a well-balanced nutrition plan is one of the best ways to maintain a healthy blood pressure without putting yourself at risk of various life-threatening side effects

If you’re diagnosed with high blood pressure, you’re likely to receive a prescription for one or more high blood pressure medications, also known as antihypertensives. There is a variety of high blood pressure medicines available, but not all of them may be suitable for you.1 Antihypertensives also come with a laundry list of side effects, so if you’re planning to include them in your treatment plan, make sure that you ask your physician about side effects first.

Common Drugs Used for High Blood Pressure

The efficiency of antihypertensive medicines may vary for every patient, and it usually depends on age, sex, race and other health conditions.2 In most cases, combinations of two to three drugs are given to control blood pressure. Here are some of the usual medicines prescribed for people with hypertension:3,4,5,6,7

Diuretics — Also known as water pills, diuretics are one of the first medications given to hypertensive patients.

These medications reduce the pressure on your vessels by flushing out excess sodium and water from your body. They may also cause your blood vessels to relax and widen.

Most diuretics have a name that ends in “-ide,” and they are often used together with other antihypertensive medicines.

Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors — ACE inhibitors relax the blood vessels by inhibiting your body’s production of angiotensin, a hormone that that causes the arteries to become narrow. The names of these medicines usually end in “-pril.”

Angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs) — ARBs work by blocking the effects of angiotensin in the body, preventing the blood vessels from becoming narrow. Most of these medicines have names that end in “-sartan.”

Calcium channel blockers — These medications prevent calcium from entering the smooth muscle tissues of the heart and arteries, where it may cause a stronger and harder contraction.

Beta-blockers — Also called beta-adrenergic blocking agents, these drugs reduce the workload of the heart by blocking the effect of the hormone epinephrine.

Alpha-blockers — These medicines keep the blood vessels open and cause the vascular walls to relax by inhibiting the tightening effect of the hormone norepinephrine on the blood vessels.

Alpha-beta blockers — These drugs work similarly to beta-blockers, although they’re usually prescribed to patients who are experiencing hypertensive crisis.

Vasodilators — Vasodilators cause the arterial walls to relax and the blood vessels to dilate, which allow for better blood flow.

Central-acting agents — These drugs reduce the workload of the heart by preventing the brain from sending signals that may speed up the heart rate and narrow blood vessels.

Side Effects and Contraindications of Antihypertensives

There are many adverse side effects associated with high blood pressure medications, and you should understand and weigh these risks before you start taking any drugs, especially since you may need to take one or more of them at a time.8 Here are some of the side effects and contraindications of the antihypertensive medicines mentioned above:9,10

Diuretics — Diuretics are known to cause dizziness, increased thirst, weakness, lethargy, muscle cramps, skin rashes, raised blood sugar levels and problems with erection in men.

It may also raise your uric acid levels, which may lead to kidney problems and gout. Some types of diuretics may lower the amount of potassium in your body too, putting you at risk of hypokalemia.

If you have an existing urinary problem, kidney disorder, liver disease, gout or Addison’s disease, you should not take diuretics, as it may exacerbate your condition or interfere with your other medications.11

ACE inhibitors — Some of the common side effects linked to ACE inhibitors include chronic dry cough, headaches, dizziness, weakness and loss of taste.

There are also rare cases wherein it may trigger allergic reactions, such as difficulty breathing and swelling around the mouth or face.

ACE inhibitors are dangerous for pregnant women, since it may cause low blood pressure, severe kidney failure, hyperkalemia and even death of the baby.12

Angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs) — Possible side effects of ARBs include dizziness, headaches, cold and flu-like symptoms. It may also trigger an allergic reaction in some people.

This type of drug is not recommended for pregnant women, since it’s shown to cause injury or even death to the fetus.13

Calcium channel blockers — Calcium channel blockers may cause palpitations, swollen ankles, constipation, headache and dizziness. In rare cases, it may also cause swollen or bleeding gums.

Pregnant and/or breastfeeding women, as well as people who are diagnosed with kidney disorder or liver disease, should avoid taking this drug.14

Beta-blockers — Beta-blockers may cause insomnia, cold hands and feet, tiredness, slow heartbeat, asthma symptoms and impotence.

If you’re diagnosed with diabetes and is taking insulin, your reaction to this drug should be monitored closely. Pregnant women should also avoid beta-blockers.15

Alpha blockers — Some of the possible side effects of alpha-blockers include fast heart rate, dizziness and a drop in blood pressure when standing up.

It may also cause nausea, swollen legs or ankles, tiredness, tremors and sleep disturbance.

Alpha-blockers should not be given to pregnant and/or breastfeeding women, as well as people who have a history of postural hypotension, heart failure, decreased liver or kidney function or Parkinson’s disease.16

Alpha-beta blockers — Alpha-beta blockers may cause dizziness, diarrhea, dry eyes, slow heart rate, skin rashes and shortness of breath in people with asthma.17

Vasodilators — Some of the possible side effects of vasodilators include headaches, palpitations, joint pain, swelling around the eyes, fluid retention and excessive hair growth.

Central-acting agents — These drugs may cause fatigue, dizziness, impotence, constipation, abnormally slow heart rate, headaches, fever and dry mouth.18

If you’re already taking one of the medicines mentioned above and you’ve been experiencing adverse side effects, do not abruptly stop your treatment without consulting your physician.19 Doing so may cause a sudden and dangerous increase in your blood pressure levels.

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You May Lower Your Blood Pressure Levels Naturally

Adopting a healthy lifestyle habit and following a well-balanced nutrition plan are two of the best ways to maintain a healthy blood pressure without putting yourself at risk of various life-threatening side effects. You may also help normalize high blood pressure levels by managing your stress, maintaining a healthy weight and cutting caffeine and alcohol from your diet.


High Blood Pressure: Introduction

What Is High Blood Pressure?

High Blood Pressure Range

High Blood Pressure Symptoms

High Blood Pressure Causes

High Blood Pressure Medications

High Blood Pressure Treatment

How to Control High Blood Pressure

High Blood Pressure Remedies

High Blood Pressure Side Effects

High Blood Pressure Headache

High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy

High Blood Pressure Prevention

High Blood Pressure Diet

Essential Oils for High Blood Pressure

Herbs for High Blood Pressure

Supplements for High Blood Pressure

High Blood Pressure FAQ

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