On the advice of their doctor, many people are forced to take high blood pressure medications. But the choices of available medicines on the market can be confusing.
It is estimated by the centers for disease control that over three out of every ten adults have hypertension. Today there are many forms of treatments available - natural herbs, dietary changes, exercise, and more. But the most popular means of treatment is to prescribe one or more specialized medications that have been proven to control hypertension.
The hypertension levels in some patients is so extreme that they have to take multiple high blood pressure medications to keep their blood pressure under control.
High Blood Pressure Medications List
The following are the most common medicines used to control high blood pressure. In all cases, they are most effective when combined with healthy lifestyle changes. None should be used without a doctor's oversight.
1) Diuretics - these are a very popular type of high blood pressure medicine for mild cases of hypertension. It works mainly by flushing water, and excess sodium with it, from the body. For more serious cases of hypertension, additional medications may be prescribed. One thing to be aware of when taking diuretics is that it often potassium is flushed out of the body along with the excess sodium. And, potassium helps to lower blood pressure. So, if using diuretics, you may want to increase your intake of foods with high potassium to keep your potassium levels up. Talk to your doctor and see if he has any concerns.
There are many types of diuretics, but the ones most commonly used to lower blood pressure are Thiazide diuretics, such as Esidrix or Zaroxolyn.
2) Ace Inhibitors - these work on the body at a hormonal level. Specifically, they block or inhibit the hormone angiotensin from constricting the blood vessels. This allows the blood vessels to relax and widen which enables blood to flow more freely and effortless through the cardiovascular system.
Examples of ace inhibitors include benazepril (Lotensin), enalapril (Vasotec), lisinopril (Prinivil, Zestril), gosinopril (Monopril),
ramipril (Altace), perindopril (Coversyl and Aceon), quinapril (Accupril), moexipril (Univasc), trandolapril (Mavik)
3) Alpha blockers - much like ace inhibitors, this type of medication for high blood pressure works at the hormonal level to help to relax the muscles. However, while ace inhibitors targets the angiotensin hormone, alpha blocker target the norepinephrine hormone. The overall effect is the same, however, in that the relaxed muscles help the blood vessels to stay open thus reducing blood pressure.
Some common alpha blockers are doxazosin (Cardura), phentolamine, tamsulosin (Flomax), and terazosin.
4) Beta Blockers - this class of high blood pressure medicines work by blocking the effect of adrenaline on the body. If you are easily stressed out or under constant stress in your daily life, odds are that your adrenaline levels are higher than normal. Adrenaline can cause massive changes in the body - including a much higher level of blood pressure. Depending on the type of beta blocker, it will block the effect of adrenaline by widening your blood vessels, lowering your heart rate, or a combination of the two.
Examples of beta blockers are acebutolol (Sectral), atenolol (Tenormin), carvedilol (Coreg), labetalol (Trandate), metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol), nadolol (Corgard), penbutolol (Levatol), and propranolol (Inderal).
5) Calcium Channel Blockers - these types of medications relax the muscles of your blood vessels. As a result, it is easier for blood to flow through the body.
Examples of calcium channle blockers are amlodipine (Norvasc), diltiazem (Cardizem, Dilacor, Taztia, Tiazac), felodipine, nicardipine (Cardene), nifedipine (Adalat, Procardia), nisoldipine (Sular), and verapamil (Calan, Isoptin SR).
Mixing Herbs/Supplements With Medications
Be careful of taking herbs and supplements with your high blood pressure medications. Some can possibly interact with your medications and potentially cause harm. In some cases, these herbs and supplements can increase the impact of the high blood pressure drugs and bring your blood pressure down to dangerous levels. The barberry herb is a perfect example of a herb that some people use to bring down their blood pressure. And, when used with some medications, it can severely decrease your blood pressure. Some diuretics will have the same effect.
In other cases, these herbs and supplements can nullify the effects of the drug completely. As a result, it's always good to let your doctor know of any supplements you are taking so he can advise you.
Medications And Food Interactions
Just as some herbs and supplements will interact with medication, so will some foods. Foods basically affect medications in one of several ways. They either reduce the amount of the medication that the body absorbs. Or, conversely, the increase the amount of the medication that the body absorbs. Foods can also affect how long a drug remains in the bloodstream.
A perfect example is the grapefruit. In normal situations, grapefruits are considered a healthy source for vitamin C and other nutrients. However, when taken with certain medications, grapefruit will increase the absorption rate of the drug. So, you body many be expecting to receive 1 mg of the medicine, but instead, you have 2 mg of the medicine coursing through your bloodstream. Grapefruit is especially reactive with calcium channel blockers.
Alcohol and high blood pressure medications do not mix. Recreational drugs are additional substances that you should try to stay away from when on hypertension medication. Your doctor and/or pharmacist should be able to tell you what other foods, if any, you should avoid when taking medications.
High Blood Pressure Medications And The Link To Diabetes
Many studies have well established the fact that if you have hypertension, the odds of you developing diabetes goes up. The reverse is true as well. Researchers generally attribute this phenomenon to the fact that bad dietary and exercise habits can lead to both diseases.
What is less commonly known, however, is that researchers have also established a link between some of the medications that patients are using to treat high blood pressure and diabetes.
For example, as explained above, beta blockers are used by a number of patients to control hypertension. However, one high blood pressure study discovered that among patients who took beta blockers, their risk of develop diabetes increased 25% over those who took no blood pressure medication at all. Conversely, among patients who took thiazide diuretics, the risk of developing diabetes was lower than that of people who didn't take them.
This in not to say that you should not take beta blocker medications. In some cases, even with the increased chance of developing diabetes, it is worth taking them. However, knowing this information will allow your doctor to weigh all factors and develop a medication program for you that will handle your hypertension and, at the same time, limit your chances of developing diabetes.
Resistant High Blood Pressure
Sometimes, even with the aid of medications, the blood pressure remains relatively high. This is what is known as resistant hypertension. When dealing with resistant hypertension, your doctor will attempt a variety of combinations of medications hoping to come up with a combination that works.
Some doctors will also try alternative methods of treatment such as recommending extreme dietary changes or a specialized fitness regimen.
He will also, most likely, want to give your more tests. There are various causes of high blood pressure. And the reason that the treatments are not working may be that is that they are treating the wrong cause. Sometimes, the key to finding what works is simply to correctly identify the cause.
In other cases, the reason for the resistant hypertension may be other medications, herbs, etcetera that the patient is taking. This is why it's extremely important to let your doctor know all drugs that you are taking.