I am lucky because I have nice low blood pressure and don’t have to take any medications for it. My husband is not so lucky. Without medication, his blood pressure is in the moderately high range. However, he takes blood pressure medication that has brought his blood pressure down into a normal range. He is lucky because such medications exist. He is also lucky because he has no side effects from the medication.
Prescribing the right blood pressure medication can be tricky. Some blood pressure medications are not good for people with diabetes or heart disease, for example. Some medications may not be tolerated by some people. Some blood pressure medications just don’t work with some people. Fortunately, there is a wide choice of blood pressure medications. Ask your doctor what type of medication you are taking and what the potential side effects might be. Remember that many of these side effects are not common and many will go away in time. Never suddenly stop taking your medication without consulting your physician.
Blood pressure medications fall into several types as follows:
DIURETICS These are the first line of defense for those who have only moderately high blood pressure. They rid they body of excess fluids and sodium.
SYMPATHETIC NERVE INHIBITORS Sympathetic nerves go from the brain to the rest of the body. They can cause arteries to constrict raising blood pressure. These medications inhibit nerves from constricting blood vessels.
VASODILATORS These cause muscles in the walls of blood vessels to relax, allowing vessels to dilate.
ACE INHIBITORS The ACE inhibitors interfere with the body’s production of angiotensin, a chemical that causes arteries to constrict.
ANGIOTENSION II RECEPTOR BLOCKERS These drugs block the effects of angiotension.
CALCIUM ANTAGONISTS (CALCIUM CHANNEL BLOCKERS) These medications reduce heart rate and relax blood vessels.
All of these medications have some side effects ranging from serious to mildly annoying. All people will not get all side effects.
DIURETICS May increase potassium. Patients must take potassium supplements. Eating a ton of bananas is not enough.
BETA BLOCKERS May cause insomnia, cold hands and feet, tiredness, depression, asthmatic symptoms, or impotence.
ACE INHIBITORS Can cause skin rash, loss of taste, chronic dry cough. In rare cases kidney damage has occurred.
ANGIOTENSION II RECEPTOR BLOCKERS Patients may experience occasional dizziness.
CALCIUM CHANNEL BLOCKERS Can cause palpitations, swollen ankles, constipation, headaches, or dizziness.
ALPHA BLOCKERS May cause fast heart rate, dizziness, or drop of blood pressure upon standing up.
CENTRAL AGONISTS Patients may be weak or faint if blood pressure is too low. They may also cause drowsiness, sluggishness, dry mouth, fever, or anemia. If taking these drugs don’t stop suddenly or blood pressure may quickly rise to dangerous levels.
BLOOD VESSEL DILATORS These can cause headaches, swelling around eyes, heart palpitations, or aches and pains in the joints. Most of these side effects will go away in time.
Blood pressure medications along with aspirin and cholesterol lowering drugs are life saving and life extending.