Medications Used in the Treatment of High Blood Pressure

In 2003 high blood pressure resulted in the deaths of 52,602 Americans. Currently in the United States 65 million people age 20 and older have high blood pressure. The cause of 90-95 percent of high blood pressure cases is unknown.

There are eight common types of medications that are used in the treatment of high blood pressure. These medications include diuretics, beta-blockers, ACE inhibitors, Calcium Channel blockers, alpha blockers, alpha-beta blockers, nervous system inhibitors and vasodilators.

Diuretics or water pills help the body get rid of extra sodium (salt) and water so that blood vessels don’t have to hold so much fluid. Examples of diuretics include Thalitone (chlorthalidone), Lasix (furosemide), Esidrix (hydrochorothiazide) and Lozol (indapamide). Sometimes a combination of diuretics is used. They include medicines such as Dyazide and Maxzide (hydrochlorothiazide with triamterene).

Beta-blockers reduce nerve impulses to the heart and blood vessels. This makes the heart beat slower and with less force. The blood pressure then drops and the heart works less hard. Beta-blockers include Sectral (acebutolol), Tenormin (atenolol), Coreg (carvedilol), Lopressor and Tropol XL (metoprolol), Corgard (nadolol), Inderal (propranolol) and Blocadren (timolol).

Angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors or ACE inhibitors prevent the formation of a hormone called angiotensin II. Angiotensin II normally cause the blood vessels to narrow. ACE inhibitors cause the vessels to relax and the blood pressure goes down. Ace inhibitors include Capoten (captopril), Lotensin (benazepril), Vasotec (enalapril), Prinivil and Zestril (lisinopril), Monopril (fosinopril), Altace (ramipril), Aceon (perindopril), Accupril (quinapril), Univasc (moexipril) and Mavik (trandolapril).

Calcium Channel Blockers (CCBs) keep calcium from entering muscle cells of heart and blood vessels. This causes the blood vessels two relax and the blood pressure goes down. CCBs include Adalat (nifedipine), Calan (verapamil), Cardene (nicardipine), Cardizem (diltiazem), Cardizem CD (diltiazem), Cardizem SR (diltiazem), Cartia (diltiazem), Covera-HS (verapamil), Dilacor XR (diltiazem), Diltia XT (diltiazem), DynaCirc (isradipine), Isoptin (verapamil), Lotrel (amlodipine), Nimotop (nimodipine), Norvasc (amlodipine), Plendil (felodipine), Procardia (nifedipine), Procardia XL (nifedipine), Sular (nisoldipine), Tiamate (diltiazem),Tiazac (diltiazem), Vascor (bepridil) and Verelan (verapamil).

Alpha Blockers reduce the nerve impulses to the blood vessels. This allows the blood to pass more easily, causing the blood pressure to go down. Alpha Blockers include Hytrin (terazosin hydrochloride), Cardura (doxazosin mesylate), Flomax (tamsulosin hydrochloride),
Uroxatral (alfuzosin hydrochloride) and Minipress (prazosin hydrochloride).

Alpha-beta blockers work the same way as alpha blockers and they slow the heart beat as beta blockers do. As a result blood is pumped through the vessels and the blood pressure goes down. Alpha-beta blockers include Sectral (acebutolol), Tenormin (atenolol), Kerlone (betaxolol), Coreg (carvedilol), Normodyne and Trandate (labetalol), Lopressor and Toprol XL (metoprolol), Corgard (nadolol), Levatol (penbutolol), Visken(pindolol), Inderal (propranolol), Blocadren (timolol).

Nervous System inhibitors relax the blood vessels by controlling nerve impulses. This causes blood vessels to become wider and blood pressure to go down. Nervous System inhibitors include Aldomet (alpha methyldopa), Catapres (clonidine hydrochloride), Wytensin (guanabenz acetate) and Tenex (guanfacine hydrochloride).

Vasodilators directly open blood vessels by relaxing muscles in the vessel walls. This causes the blood pressure to go down. Vasodilators include Apresoline (hydralazine) and Loniten (minoxidil).

High blood pressure is easily detected and it is usually controllable with the proper medication. It is important to obtain medical treatment immediately if you have high blood pressure. Serious health risks and death can result from delayed treatment.

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