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Different Hypertension Medications: How Do They Lower Your BP?

Different Hypertension Medications: How Do They Lower Your BP?

If you have hypertension, it’s crucial that you only take medicine prescribed by your doctor. Even if a fellow hypertensive friend or relative recommends you drugs that they swear are effective for them, you still shouldn’t skip a doctor’s appointment. You see, there are various types of hypertension medications, and each has a unique mechanism of action and side effects. To determine which drug is right for you, the doctor needs to conduct a thorough health assessment and order some laboratory tests.

Here’s a brief breakdown of the different hypertension medications and how they bring your blood pressure down.

Diuretics

Diuretics are medicines that promote urination. Essentially, these drugs allow your kidneys to take more sodium into the urine. Note that the sodium takes with it water from the blood, hence the increased urination.

Basically, diuretics reduce the amount of fluid flowing through your blood vessels, significantly decreasing the blood pressure.

Examples:

  • Thiazide
  • Potassium-sparing
  • Loop
  • Combination

Beta-blockers

Beta-blockers are common hypertension medications. They help lower the blood pressure by blocking adrenaline, making the heart beat more slowly and with less force. Additionally, beta-blockers also promote blood flow by opening up the blood vessels.

Examples:

  • Atenolol
  • Propranolol
  • Metoprolol

ACE Inhibitors

ACE stands for angiotensin-converting enzymes. Basically, ACEs activate Angiotensin II, a chemical that narrows the blood vessels.

Now, taking ACE inhibitors means you inhibit or slow down the activity of ACEs. This means your body produces less of Angiotensin II, helping the blood vessels relax or open up and promoting blood flow.

Examples:

  • Captopril
  • Lisinopril
  • Perindopril

Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers

Angiotensin II receptor blockers also lower blood pressure by relaxing the blood vessels. However, instead of inhibiting the enzyme, ARBs block the receptors that Angiotensin II needs to narrow the arteries and veins.

In many cases, doctors recommend this hypertension medicine when ACE inhibitors produce troublesome side effects.

Examples:

Calcium Channel Blockers

When calcium enters the muscle cells and arteries, it produces a more forceful contraction.

Calcium channel blockers prevent the entrance of calcium, reducing forceful contractions. Likewise, calcium channel blockers also relax the blood vessels and lower the heart rate.

Examples:

Alpha-Blockers

Alpha-blockers are also common hypertension medications. They prevent norepinephrine from constricting arteries and veins, promoting better circulation.

Examples:

  • Prazosin hydrochloride
  • Doxazosin mesylate
  • Terazosin hydrochloride

Alpha-2 Receptor Agonist

Alpha-2 receptor agonist decreases the activity of the sympathetic nervous system, which dictates the body’s response to stressful situations. By reducing the sympathetic nervous system activity, this hypertension medicine also lowers blood pressure.

Example:

  • Methyldopa

Note that methyldopa is the first-line hypertension medicine for pregnant women because it has infrequent side effects for both mother and baby.

Central Agonists

Central agonists also “manipulate” the nervous system. These hypertension medications block the signals that cause narrowing of blood vessels and increased heart rate. In doing so, central agonists relax the veins and arteries and prevent the heart from pumping too forcefully.

Examples:

  • Alpha methyldopa
  • Clonidine hydrochloride

Vasodilators

Finally, another of the common hypertension medications is vasodilators. These drugs work by relaxing the muscles in the walls of the blood vessels, allowing them to widen, and promoting better blood flow.

Examples:

  • Minoxidil
  • Hydralazine hydrochloride

Final Reminders

Only a doctor can tell which hypertension medications are right for you.

Depending on your condition and the results of your tests, they might only give you one type of antihypertensive medicine or ask you to take a combination of drugs.

Case in point, some medicines have calcium channel blockers (amlodipine besylate) and angiotensin II receptor blockers (valsartan). There are even instances when you also need other drugs, such as one that controls your cholesterol levels or thins the blood.

Lastly, remember that treating hypertension requires a holistic approach. Besides medications, the doctor will also guide you on lifestyle and dietary modifications you need to take.

Learn more about Hypertension here.

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Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. Updated a week ago
Fact Checked by Hello Doctor Medical Panel
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