Blood pressure medication

Overview

Blood pressure medications, also known as antihypertensives, work in various ways to lower blood pressure. Some widen blood vessels to allow blood to flow more easily, while others remove excess fluids from the blood or block hormones that raise blood pressure. Your healthcare provider will consider your age, race, gender, other health conditions, and the severity of your high blood pressure when prescribing these medications. This personalized approach ensures that your treatment plan is tailored to your unique situation, making it different from someone else’s.

It’s common to need more than one type of blood pressure medication to achieve optimal results. Your healthcare provider may start with one medication and gradually add others until your blood pressure is under control. They might also change your medications if the initial ones cause side effects or are ineffective. To monitor progress, your healthcare provider will likely ask you to measure your blood pressure at home each morning before consuming any caffeine.

Typically, blood pressure medications are taken as daily pills, but in some cases, they might be administered intravenously during a hospital stay. The primary goal of these medications is to reduce high blood pressure and prevent complications such as heart failure, heart attacks, kidney failure, or strokes. Lowering blood pressure eases the workload on your heart, ensuring it can efficiently pump blood to vital organs and cells around the clock.

Types

Types of blood pressure medications
Managing blood pressure often involves medication. Here are the main types of blood pressure medications, how they work, and their common Side effect.

Adrenergic blockers

  • Types: Alpha blockers, beta blockers, alphabeta blockers, and peripherally acting blockers
  • Function: Prevent the body from raising blood pressure in response to stress
  • Side effect: Fainting, dizziness, tiredness, low heart rate

Angiotensinconverting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors

  • Function: Prevent the body from making angiotensin II, a substance that constricts blood vessels
  • Side effect: Cough, high potassium levels, dizziness, angioedema (face and neck swelling). Note: Avoid ACE inhibitors if you experience angioedema.

Angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs)

  • Function: Block the effect of angiotensin II, preventing blood vessel constriction
  • Side effect: High potassium levels, dizziness

Calcium channel blockers

  • Types: Dihydropyridines and nondihydropyridines
  • Function: Prevent calcium from entering blood vessels, allowing them to relax and widen
  • Side effect: Headache, dizziness, fast or slow heart rate, lower leg swelling

Centrally acting alphaagonists

  • Function: Stop the nervous system from responding to stress, lowering blood pressure
  • Side effect: Tiredness, dry mouth, slow heart rate

Direct vasodilators

  • Function: Open blood vessels directly
  • Side effect: Fast heart rate, headache, lower leg swelling

Diuretics

  • Types: Potassiumsparing, loop, thiazide, and thiazidetype diuretics
  • Function: Help widen blood vessels and cause the kidneys to remove extra fluid and salt through urine
  • Side effect: High or low magnesium or potassium levels, upset stomach, high uric acid levels, dizziness

Understanding these medications and their potential Side effect can help you manage your blood pressure more effectively. Always consult your healthcare provider before starting or changing any medication.

Reasons for undergoing the procedure

In order to maintain heart strong and prevent heart failure, heart attacks, renal failure, or strokes, blood pressure medications are prescribed. The work that your heart must do is made harder and more demanding by high blood pressure. It is easier for your heart to continue pumping blood to your vital organs and cells around-the-clock when your blood pressure is lowered.

Risk

Some older adults experience a sudden drop in blood pressure when they stand up, known as orthostatic hypotension. Antihypertensive medications can exacerbate this condition, leading to dizziness and an increased risk of falls and injuries. Additionally, some antihypertensive medications can alter electrolyte levels as they promote fluid loss through urine. Imbalances in potassium levels, whether too high or too low, can result in dangerous heart rhythms.

Outcome

Many people successfully control their blood pressure with antihypertensive drugs, which helps prevent serious cardiovascular and kidney problems when combined with a healthy diet and exercise. To maintain normal blood pressure, it is crucial to take medication at the same time every day without missing doses and attend regular checkups with periodic bloodwork to ensure the medication isn’t causing any issues. Adopting a good lifestyle is also important, including keeping sodium intake low, limiting alcohol use, getting regular physical activity, and controlling weight.

If you experience side effects from blood pressure medication, inform your healthcare provider. They can prescribe a different antihypertensive medication or adjust the dosage of your current one. Additionally, if your home blood pressure readings become too high or too low, let your healthcare provider know immediately.