6 types of medicine for high blood pressure
So your doctor prescribed medication for your high blood pressure but what are the different types of medicines available and how do they work?
Here’s a breakdown of the types of medicines for high blood pressure, a little about how they work and if there are any side effects.
If a particular type of medication doesn’t work for you – contact your doctor to get it switched.
You will most likely be on this medication for a long time and there’s absolutely no reason to use medication that’s ill-suited.
ACE inhibitors is short for Angiotensin Converting Enzyme Inhibitors, and act by inhibiting the formation of the hormone angiontensin II. Angiotensin II has high effect on vascular contraction, and it also helps the kidneys secrete less water and salts. Angiotensin II makes your blood pressure go up. By taking an ACE inhibitor, the formation of angiotensin II is prevented and blood pressure is reduced.
ACE inhibitors are especially suitable if you suffer from heart failure or diabetes with impaired renal function. The most common side effect is cough.
Their brand names are for example – Enalapril and Ramipril.
Today, two different types of diuretics are used for high blood pressure:
Thiazide diuretics (eg Salures, Esidrex) most commonly, but depending on whether you have other diseases, your doctor may prescribe loop diuretics (eg Lasix, Furix)
Diuretics have two effects that are used in medication. In the kidneys, the exudation of salt and fluid increases the amount of fluid in the blood vessels. As the volume decreases, blood pressure decreases. For long term treatment, they also act by widening the blood vessels. As the vessels expand, the resistance decreases and blood pressure decreases.
Diuretics are well-proven drugs, used as antihypertensive agents since the late 50’s. They have few side effects but can sometimes adversely affect the blood fats (lipids) and blood sugar.
Examples brand names are Amlodipine, Felodipine, Verapamil.
Calcium channel blockers
Calcium channel blockers, Calcium Inhibitors, Calcium Antagonists – this family of medication goes by several different names.
They have their blood pressure lowering effect in the blood vessels where they widen the smallest vessels, thus lowering blood pressure. They are most suitable when only the systolic (the high number) pressure is elevated while the dystolic (the low number) is normal. Also known as systolic hypertension. The most common side effects are swollen ankles, headaches and nasal congestion.
Brand names are for example – Seloken (Metoprolol), Bisoprolol, Atenolol.
Beta blockers act by preventing the body’s stress hormones (such as catecholamines, eg adrenaline) to function fully by preventing the hormone from attaching to a certain type of receptor (beta receptor). Beta receptors are found in many parts of the body, including in the heart and in the kidneys. The antihypertensive effect comes mainly from the kidneys where beta blockers prevent the release of a blood pressure-lowering hormone (renin). Beta blocker also works in the heart where they work to reduce an elevated pulse.
Side effects include cold hands and feet, (too) slow pulse as well as sleep disorders. Betablockers are especially suitable if you have heart rhythm problems or have had a heart attack in addition to high blood pressure, but studies show that beta blockers may have a less protective effect against stroke and heart attack than other common antihypertensive drugs.
Like ACE inhibitors, Angiotensin Receptor Blocker / ARB works to prevent or decrease the effect of the highly vascular antagonist angiotensin II. They are used primarily as alternatives to ACE inhibitors if you experience side effects, such as cough.
Brand names include Atacand (Candesartan) and Cozaar (Losartan).
Combination medicines are medicines that contain a combination of two active substances – such as ACE inhibitors and diuretics or beta blockers and calcium-flow inhibitors – if you need more than one substance to reach acceptable blood pressure.
Aldosterone antagonists (e.g. Spironolactone) had their heyday as antihypertensive agents in the 80’s and 90’s, and are used today as a means of treating heart failure. In cases where it is used for high blood pressure, it is usually as an additional medicine in particularly difficult cases.