High blood pressure medications
Hypertension - medicines
Treating your high blood pressure will help prevent heart disease, stroke, problems with your eyesight, chronic kidney disease, and other blood vessel diseases.
Your health care provider will help you find programs for losing weight, stopping smoking, and exercising. You can also get a referral from your health care provider to a dietitian, who can help you plan a diet that is healthy for you.
If you need to take medicine for your high blood pressure, your health care provider can choose from a number of blood pressure medicines that are easy to take.
See also: High blood pressure
MEDICINES FOR HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE
Several types of medicine are used to treat high blood pressure. Your health care provider will decide which type of medicine is right for you. You may need to take more than one blood pressure medicine.
Each type of blood pressure medicine listed below comes in different brand and generic names.
One or more of these blood pressure medicines are often used to treat high blood pressure:
- Diuretics are also called water pills. They help your kidneys remove some salt (sodium) from your body. As a result, your blood vessels don't have to hold as much fluid and your blood pressure goes down.
- Beta-blockers make the heart beat at a slower rate and with less force.
- Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (also called ACE inhibitors) relax your blood vessels, which lowers your blood pressure.
- Angiotensin II receptor blockers (also called ARBs) work in about the same way as angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors.
- Calcium channel blockers relax blood vessels by stopping calcium from entering cells.
Blood pressure medicines that are not used as often include:
- Alpha-blockers help relax your blood vessels, which lowers your blood pressure.
- Centrally acting drugs signal your brain and nervous system to relax your blood vessels.
- Vasodilators signal the muscles in the walls of blood vessels to relax.
- Renin inhibitors, a newer type of medicine for treating high blood pressure, act by relaxing your blood vessels.
SIDE EFFECTS OF BLOOD PRESSURE MEDICINES
Most blood pressure medicines are easy to take, but all medicines have side effects. Most of these are mild and many of them will go away over time.
Some common side effects of high blood pressure medicines include:
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Dizziness or light-headedness
- Erection problems
- Feeling nervous
- Feeling tired, weak, drowsy, or a lack of energy
- Nausea or vomiting
- Skin rash
- Weight loss or gain without trying
Tell your health care provider as soon as possible if you have side effects or your side effects become severe or bothersome. Most of the time, he or she can change the dose of the medicine or time of day you take it to help reduce side effects.
Never change the dose or stop taking your medicines on your own. Always talk to your health care provider first.
Taking more than one medicine may change how your body absorbs or uses a drug. Vitamins or supplements, different foods, or alcohol may also change how a drug acts in your body.
Always ask your health care provider whether you need to avoid any foods, drinks, vitamins or supplements, or any other medicines while you are taking blood pressure medicine.
Kaplan NM. Systemic hypertension: Treatment. In: Bonow RO, Mann DL, Zipes DP, Libby P, eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 46.
David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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