Choosing the appropriate blood pressure medicine can be hard. There are dozens of medications available and each one carries some benefits and side effects. Doctors sometimes prescribe two or more drugs to treat high blood pressure. Lifestyle change can keep things in control but medications are needed as well.
Types of Blood Pressure Drugs
Diuretics or Water Pills
Doctors will try diuretics or water pills as the first type of high blood pressure drugs. Medicines like chlorthalidone, bumetanide, and amiloride assist the kidneys in removing water and salt from the body. The idea is to reduce the total fluid to lower the pressure in the blood vessels. Other medicines under this type are triamterene, spironolactone, metolazone, indapamide, hydrochlorothiazide, furosemide, and chlorothiazide.
There are times when a single pill contains two or more diuretics. One good example is hydrochlorothiazide, which is combined with other diuretics like triamterene, spironolactone, and amiloride.
Beta-blockers are usually taken to reduce the force of blood as it goes through the vessels. Drugs like betaxolol, atenolol, and acebutolol prevent the heart from pumping hard by slowing down the heartbeat. The same is true for timolol, sotalol, propranolol, pindolol, penbutolol, and nebivolol. Nadolol, metoprolol, carteolol, and bisoprolol also belong to this group.
Alpha-blockers work by preventing nerve signals from tightening the blood vessels. Drugs like terazosin, prazosin, and doxazosin relax the blood vessels. When they are relaxed, the overall blood pressure will drop as the blood has more space to flow through.
The purpose of vasodilators is to ease the muscles of the blood vessel walls. Minoxidil and hydralazine widen the vessels to ease the blood flow.
Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme (ACE) Inhibitors
The purpose of ACE inhibitors is to stop the body from producing hormones which tighten the blood vessels. Drugs like enalapril, captopril, and benazepril lessen such hormones so that the blood vessels are more open. Other notable drugs under this group are trandolapril, ramipril, quinapril, perindopril, moexipril and lisinopril.
Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers (ARBs)
Just like ACE inhibitors, ARBs also prevent how the same hormones work. The body still produces them but are prevented by ARBs from sticking to the muscles surrounding the blood vessels. This type of blood pressure medicine includes valsartan, telmisartan, losartan, irbesartan, eprosartan, and candesartan.
Direct Renin Inhibitors
Similar to ARBs and ACE inhibitors, direct renin inhibitors attack the same process to prevent the tightening of the blood vessels. However, the focus of these drugs is on the renin enzyme. Medicines like aliskiren prevent renin from setting off reactions that would result in the hormone’s production.
Calcium Channel Blockers (CCBs)
CCBs are sometimes referred to as calcium antagonists. Drugs like diltiazem, bepridil and amlodipine prevent calcium from going through some muscle cells in the blood vessels and heart. In short, these medicines make it more difficult for electrical signals to pass.
Some drugs that belong to this group prevent the tightening of blood vessels. Others ease how the heart pumps blood. Some variants relax the heart rate. CCBs also include verapamil, nisoldipine, nifedipine, nicardipine, isradipine, and felodipine.
Central agonists are also referred to as central alpha agonists, central adrenergic inhibitors and central-acting agents. Under this group are methyldopa, guanfacine, guanabenz and clonidine. The primary purpose of these drugs is to prevent brain signals which restrict the blood vessels and speed up the heart rate.
Peripheral Adrenergic Blockers
Peripheral adrenergic blockers are not commonly prescribed by doctors. Reserpine, guanethidine, and guanadrel prevent brain signals that tighten the blood vessels.
Blood pressure medicines are sometimes combined to produce a stronger effect. One example is the combination of the beta-blocker bisoprolol and the diuretic hydrochlorothiazide. The combination of the beta-blocker and alpha-blocker carvedilol also works against high blood pressure. The same can also be said for the beta-blocker and alpha-blocker combo of labetalol. The diuretic hydrochlorothiazide and the ARB olmesartan is also an effective combination against high blood pressure.
Important Changes in Lifestyle That Can Lower Blood Pressure
Lifestyle changes that can contribute to lower blood pressure are good for everyone. This applies to individuals who have hypertension and to those who are just starting to have high blood pressure. Though these may not completely eliminate the need for blood pressure drugs, they may somehow reduce the need for them.
Avoid burnout and learn how to relax. Managing stress is key to achieving healthier blood pressure levels.
To begin with, smoking is really bad for your health. Stop this and see how your overall health improves like never before.
Reduce Alcohol Intake
Limit the alcohol you consume. One drink daily is advisable for healthy adults.
Exercise is good for your health. On most days of the week, a moderate activity of around 30 minutes is great. This can be broken down into 3 10-minute parts daily.
A diet focused on vegetables and fruits is healthy to eat. As much as possible, keep your sodium intake into a minimum.
Always aim for a healthy weight. Too much weight has always been tied to disorders like high blood pressure.
Other Health Issues Tied to High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is always associated with other health conditions. The list includes chronic kidney disease, diabetes, and coronary artery disease. It is also linked to left ventricular hypertrophy, which is a thickening or enlargement of the left chamber of the heart. High blood pressure also goes hand in hand with previous stroke or heart attack and heart failure.
The risk of these complications can be reduced using a targeted treatment approach. For instance, a beta blocker may be prescribed by a doctor if you have angina or chest pain. This type of drug will not only decrease your blood pressure but also reduce the risk of death, decrease heart rate and prevent chest pain.
It is best to always take time and effort to find the right combination of medicines to keep your blood pressure under control. Combining blood pressure medicines with lifestyle changes can significantly increase your chances of achieving a healthier blood pressure.