Blood Pressure Medications
There are literally dozens of blood pressure medications available today which can be used either alone or in combination to help to control blood pressure problems.
Our aim here is to provide a simple and general overview of the different blood pressure medication groups from which your doctor may select a suitable drug (or combination of drugs) for your particular situation.
High blood pressure medications.
High blood pressure is generally divided into stage 1 and stage 2 high blood pressure or, if you like, high blood pressure and seriously high blood pressure.
In the case of stage 1 high blood pressure the first line of attack is normally to prescribe a diuretic which is designed to flush excess water and salt (sodium) out of the body. In many cases diuretics, combined with some lifestyle changes such as a change in diet and increase in exercise, is often enough to solve the problem. Where this is not sufficient however your doctor may recommend additional medication including:
- Beta blockers. Beta blockers reduce nerve signals to the heart and blood vessels to reduce blood pressure. Beta blockers include:
- Acebutolol (Sectral)
- Atenolol (Tenormin)
- Betaxolol (Kerlone)
- Bisoprolol (Ziac / Zebeta)
- Carteolol (Cartol)
- Metoprolol (Lopressor / Toprol XL)
- Nadolol (Corgard)
- Propanolol (Inderal)
- Sotalol (Betapace)
- Timolol (Blocadren)
- ACE inhibitors. Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors block the production of a hormone which normally causes blood vessels to narrow. Blood pressure is thus reduced by relaxing the blood vessels. ACE inhibitors include:
- Benazepril (Lotensin)
- Captopril (Capoten)
- Enalapril (Vasotec)
- Fosinopril (Monopril)
- Lisinopril (Prinivil / Zestril)
- Moexipril (Univasc)
- Perindopril (Aceon)
- Quinapril (Accupril)
- Ramipril (Altace)
- Trandolapril (Mavik)
- Angiotensin-2 (AT-2) receptor blockers. Angiotensin-2 receptor blockers work in much the same way as ACE inhibitors to relax the blood vessels. AT-2 receptor blockers include:
- Candesartan (Atacand)
- Eprosartan (Teveten)
- Irbesartan (Avapro)
- Losartan (Cozaar)
- Telmisartan (Micardis)
- Calcium channel blockers. Calcium accumulation in the heart muscles and blood vessel muscles causes the muscles to tighten and so calcium channel blockers cause these cells to relax. Calcium blockers include:
- Amlodipine (Norvasc / Lotrel)
- Bepridil (Vascor)
- Diltiazem (Cardizem / Tiazac)
- Felodipine (Plendil)
- Nifedipine (Adalat / Procardia)
- Nimodipine (Nimotop)
- Nisoldipine (Sular)
- Verapamil (Calan / Isoptin / Verelan)
In the case of more serious stage 2 high blood pressure your doctor is again likely to prescribe a diuretic in the first instance and is again likely to make use of the same medication as would be prescribed for stage 1 high blood pressure.
In this case however it is common to use a combination of two (or sometimes even three) of these medicines in combination.
Low blood pressure medications.
There are a number of drugs which can be used in the treatment of low pressure however treating low blood pressure is much more a case of treating the underlying cause rather than treating low blood pressure itself.
Here it is common to choose medication that causes hypotension as a side effect. Such medication includes nitrates, drugs for Parkinson's disease, anti-psychotics, neuroleptics, anti-anxiety agents, sedative-hypnotics, and tricyclic antidepressants.
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