For decades, doctors have prescribed medications to treat high blood pressure and treat it successfully to help people live longer. At the same time, many Americans are unaware of the benefits and risks of these medications. In this blog post, we’ll cover the types of blood pressure medications available and talk about their uses and side effects.
A blood pressure (BP) test measures how hard a patient’s arteries are working. An elevated blood pressure is one of the risk factors for a heart attack or stroke. While many people already know that high blood pressure is a risk factor for these serious conditions, many people are unaware of how the system works. In this article, we answer several important questions about blood pressure.
Blood pressure medications work by lowering the force of the heart, which helps to reduce the amount of fluid that’s pumped into the arteries that feed the heart. This helps to reduce the workload of the heart, which improves blood flow and reduces fluid buildup. These drugs are also prescribed to people who have had a heart attack, and to those who have a drop in blood pressure or heart failure.. Read more about which is the best medicine for high blood pressure? and let us know what you think.
If you have high blood pressure that has not improved after making lifestyle modifications, your doctor may prescribe medication.
Anti-hypertensives, which are blood pressure medications that exist in eight main groups and a variety of formulations, may be given in this situation.
Each medication class works in the body in a distinct way to lower blood pressure. Choosing the appropriate medication, or drug combination, is a delicate procedure that is influenced by your medical history. You and your doctor may need some time to figure out the optimal drug regimen for you.
This guide will teach you all you need to know about the many types of blood pressure medications, how they work to reduce blood pressure, who they’re best for, and any possible side effects.
To begin, why is it so essential to reduce high blood pressure?
What you need to know about normal blood pressure, low blood pressure, and high blood pressure has been covered in other guides.
Anything below 120/80 is considered normal blood pressure. Every point over that typical range raises the chance of developing health issues. Stage 1 hypertension is defined as blood pressure that is persistently greater than 130/80. It may raise the risk of numerous medical problems over time, including heart disease, heart attacks, stroke, kidney damage, eye damage, and even early death. It’s critical to get your blood pressure back into a healthy level.
While a low-carb diet, exercise, and weight loss may help to lower blood pressure, it is not always sufficient. If your blood pressure continues to be high, speak with your doctor about whether anti-hypertensive medicines are appropriate for you.
Information that your doctor should be aware of
The appropriate medicine for you will be determined by your age, blood tests, medical problems, and whether or not a particular reason for your hypertension can be identified.
Your doctor will most likely undertake the following before starting you on a new medication:
- a minimum of two blood pressure readings taken on two different occasions
- a full medical history, including any risk factors for cardiovascular disease, as well as any previous heart attack, stroke, or angina; or any history of high blood pressure-related health disorders, such as thyroid problems or sleep apnea.
- a check to see if you’re using any supplements, over-the-counter medicines, or prescription prescriptions that may make you hypertensive
- a physical examination
- Standard lab tests (blood sugar, full blood count, lipid panel, thyroid, basic metabolic panel) and a urine test for kidney impairment are performed.
- An electrocardiogram (ECG) may be performed to evaluate the electrical activity of your heart.
Although it is uncommon, if your blood pressure is very high at your medical appointment (for example, more than 180/120) and/or you are at danger of organ damage, you may need to be admitted to the hospital right away for blood pressure-lowering IV medicines.
Blood pressure medicines are divided into many categories.
There are eight different types of blood pressure medications:
- inhibitors of the angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE inhibitors, or ACE-I)
- Blockers of the angiotensin II receptor (ARBs)
- Calcium channel blockers are drugs that prevent calcium channels from opening (CCBs)
- beta-blockers are a kind of medication that prevents the body (BBs)
- alpha-1 inhibitors
- alpha-2 agonists and central agents
- vasodilators that work directly on the blood vessels
Clinical recommendations suggest that your doctor start your anti-hypertensive medication with one of the first four classes mentioned above, which are also known as “first line” anti-hypertensive medicines.
What is the structure of each class?
Diuretics are one kind of diuretic.
Diuretics are one of the oldest groups of blood pressure medicines, having been used for more than 50 years. They lower blood pressure by eliminating excess salt (sodium) and water from the body via the kidneys. They’re also known as “water pills.” This lowers your blood pressure by decreasing the quantity of fluid flowing through your blood vessels.
Diuretics decrease edema and bloating in addition to reducing blood pressure. While some individuals who take diuretics may have to pee more often, this is not a common side effect, and most people adapt to it with time.
Diuretics are divided into three categories, each of which acts on distinct sections of the kidney to remove water and salt:
- Thiazide and thiazide-like compounds: Common thiazide diuretics include chlorthalidone, hydrochlorothiazide, and indapamide, and are considered the first line of treatment if you have normal kidney and heart function. While they are deemed harmless, they may cause a decrease in potassium levels in the body. On thiazides, a tiny proportion of individuals may develop gout or have elevated blood sugar levels. As a result, if you have a history of gout, pre-diabetes, or a diabetes diagnosis, your doctor may prescribe a different blood pressure medication. While taking these medicines, you may need to keep an eye on your electrolytes.
- Common loop diuretics include furosemide, bumetanide, and torsemide, and are used more often if you have pre-existing decreased kidney function, swelling in your limbs (edema), or heart failure. Loop diuretics, like thiazides, are usually safe, but some individuals may have electrolyte problems including low calcium, magnesium, sodium, and potassium.
- Aldosterone antagonists, often known as “potassium-sparing” diuretics, may raise potassium levels in the body. Spironolactone and eplerenone are two popular aldosterone antagonists that are frequently given to individuals who have heart failure and excessive blood pressure. Spironolactone may induce gynecomastia (male breast tissue enlargement) and erectile dysfunction in a small proportion of individuals.
While using diuretics, your sodium, potassium, uric acid, calcium, and renal function are generally evaluated on a regular basis. If your diuretic is causing you to lose too much potassium, your doctor may advise you to take potassium supplements or consume potassium-rich meals.
People on a keto diet may be more susceptible to diuretics, according to anecdotal evidence, since ketosis may have a diuretic impact.
2. Inhibitors of the angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE inhibitors)
Because they perform effectively and have minimal adverse effects, ACE inhibitors are another popular first option among blood pressure medicines. Benazepril, captopril, lisinopril, and enalapril are examples of ACE inhibitors. An ACE inhibitor is typically identified by a medication name that ends in “-il.”
ACE inhibitors operate by preventing an enzyme in the body from producing angiotensin II. Angiotensin II causes the arteries to constrict or narrow, resulting in a rise in blood pressure. ACE inhibitors assist blood arteries expand and relax, decreasing blood pressure, by reducing the amount of angiotensin II generated by the body.
This drug class is frequently given for patients with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, heart failure, or chronic renal disease, and it is usually well tolerated.
If you have a side effect, it’s usually a cough or an increase in potassium levels. These effects may be severe enough to need switching to a different blood pressure medication.
Angioedema (swelling of the lips and airways that makes breathing difficult) is an uncommon allergic response that may occur in individuals taking ACE inhibitors. This response is more frequent in African Americans, women, and smokers, and it necessitates discontinuing the drug and getting medical help right once.
It’s essential to highlight that women who are pregnant (or may become pregnant) should avoid using ACE inhibitors since they may harm the mother’s health and the fetus’ development.
Initially, several studies suggested that using ACE inhibitors may lead to more severe coronavirus symptoms. The American Heart Association and the European Society of Cardiology’s Council on Hypertension both issued comments emphasizing the absence of strong evidence that ACE medications are detrimental in the context of the COVID-19 epidemic.
Since then, one research found that using ACE inhibitors or ARBs did not increase the severity of COVID illness. Unless otherwise directed by their doctor, individuals should continue to take their regular anti-hypertensive medication.
3. Blockers of the angiotensin II receptor (ARBs)
ARBs, like ACE inhibitors, prevent angiotensin II from narrowing blood arteries. These medicines, instead of inhibiting the production of angiotensin II, block the angiotensin II receptor on blood vessels, preventing blood vessel constriction or narrowing.
Losartan, valsartan, and candesartan are examples of ARBs. An ARB is typically identified by a medication name that ends in “-tan.”
For individuals with high blood pressure, this type of medicine is also being investigated as a possible first-line treatment option. Because certain patients, particularly those with renal illness or who use potassium supplements, may acquire high potassium levels, potassium levels and kidney function must be monitored.
ARB side effects may include elevated potassium levels or a dry cough, which are similar to ACE inhibitors but less frequent. The allergic response angioedema, which needs urgent medical attention, is also very uncommon. These medicines should not be used by women who are pregnant or may become pregnant, just as they should not take ACE-I drugs.
As with ACE inhibitors, you should not stop taking ARBs without first talking to your doctor about your concerns about coronavirus interactions.
Calcium channel blockers are a fourth option (CCBs)
CCBs work by preventing calcium from entering muscle cells, resulting in reduced artery constriction and a decrease in the force and pace of cardiac contractions. All of this contributes to a reduction in blood pressure. In general, CCBs are regarded as a first-line option.
Dihydropyridines (DHPs) and nondihydropyridines (NDHPs) are the two main sub-classes of CCBs (non-DHPs). Dihydropyridines have a stronger effect on the arteries, whereas nondihydropyridines have a stronger effect on the heart. Amlodipine, nifedipine, and diltiazem are examples of CCBs.
In individuals with specific kinds of heart failure, these medicines are generally avoided.
Dihydropyridine CCBs may also induce ankle edema, which is more frequent in women than in males. When the drug dosage is reduced or discontinued, this kind of edema generally goes away.
Beta-blockers are a kind of beta-adrenergic blocker (BBs)
The hormone epinephrine, commonly known as adrenaline, is blocked by beta-adrenergic blocking medications, often known as beta-blockers (BBs). Epinephrine constricts blood vessels and makes the heart beat quicker and harder. Blood pressure falls when the effects of epinephrine are inhibited.
Metoprolol, labetalol, carvedilol, and bisoprolol are examples of BBs. A beta blocker is identified by a medication name that ends in ‘-ol.’
Beta-blockers are seldom given alone for the treatment of high blood pressure. Instead, they’re usually taken by people who have high blood pressure as well as other illnesses like heart failure or a recent heart attack. For those with very high blood pressure, beta-blockers are occasionally given as a second or third medication, alongside diuretics and ACE inhibitors.
Beta-blockers may raise the chance of developing glucose intolerance and diabetes in certain people. However, with newer beta-blockers like carvedilol and nebivolol, this does not seem to be the case.
Some beta-blockers should be avoided by those with airway disorders like asthma because they may induce wheezing or trouble breathing. Furthermore, individuals with diabetes who are using blood sugar-lowering medicines should check their sugar levels regularly since beta-blockers may disguise the signs of extremely low blood sugar. Fatigue and weight gain are two of the most often reported adverse effects of BBs.
6. The remaining three types of medicines
When the first five types of medicines, or a combination of them, fail to function, physicians will resort to the final three medications: alpha-1 blockers, central agents and alpha-2 agonists, and direct vasodilators. (There is a fourth type of medication known as direct renin inhibitors, although it is seldom used.)
Doxazosin, clonidine, hydralazine, and minoxidil are examples of medicines that fall into these three categories. These medicines are usually reserved for individuals with the most difficult-to-treat blood pressure problems, which frequently require the use of three or four medications to control.
It’s worth noting that these medicines have a higher rate of adverse effects and don’t provide the same level of cardiovascular protection as the others.
Alpha-1 blockers are frequently given as a second drug to assist with any urinary difficulties and to manage high blood pressure in men with benign prostatic hyperplasia, a disease characterized by an enlarged prostate.
If you have high blood pressure, your doctor will discuss the different medicines with you and may prescribe one of the first-line options.
It’s never easy to start taking medicines for high blood pressure, and it’s crucial to understand when and why it’s appropriate to start. It’s also critical that your doctor monitors your progress and keeps an eye out for any negative side effects, such as electrolyte imbalances.
Even if you decide to start taking medication, it’s important to maintain good lifestyle choices such as eating a low-sugar, low-carb diet, exercising, and learning efficient stress management techniques.
You may be able to decrease the dosage of your blood pressure medicine or the number of drugs you need to take over time if you make healthy lifestyle choices, particularly if you are able to lose weight. If their blood pressure readings return to normal levels, some individuals who live a healthy lifestyle may be able to stop using blood pressure medicines entirely.
Begin your risk-free 30-day trial now!
Get immediate access to low-carb and keto meal plans, quick and simple recipes, medical experts’ weight reduction advice, and much more. With your free trial, you can start living a better life right now!
Begin your risk-free trial now!
Blood pressure is the force that blood exerts on the walls of your arteries as it flows through them. Today, you can buy blood pressure medications in a number of forms: oral pills, skin patches, injections, and other medications you might already know.. Read more about what is the most popular medication for high blood pressure? and let us know what you think.
Frequently Asked Questions
What do blood pressure tablets actually do?
Blood pressure tablets are used to lower blood pressure. They work by relaxing the arteries in the body and increasing blood flow.
What are the 4 best blood pressure drugs?
The 4 best blood pressure drugs are Aspirin, Nitroglycerine, Dopamine and Levodopa.
What is safest blood pressure medication?
The safest blood pressure medication is a drug called Ace inhibitors.
This article broadly covered the following related topics:
- blood pressure medications list alphabetical
- what is the most popular medication for high blood pressure?
- best medicine for high blood pressure
- what is the first drug of choice for hypertension?
- which is the best medicine for high blood pressure?