Treatment: Types of Blood Pressure Medications
Here’s a rundown on the main types of drugs and how they work. Often, two or more drugs work better than one.
- Diuretics: Diuretics are sometimes called “water pills” because they work in the kidney and flush excess water and sodium from the body.
- Beta-blockers: Beta-blockers reduce nerve impulses to the heart and blood vessels. This makes the heart beat slower and with less force. Blood pressure drops and the heart works less hard.
- ACE inhibitors: Angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors prevent the formation of a hormone called angiotensin II, which normally causes blood vessels to narrow. The ACE inhibitors cause the vessels to relax and blood pressure goes down.
- Angiotensin antagonists: Angiotensin antagonists shield blood vessels from angiotensin II. As a result, the vessels become wider and blood pressure goes down.
- Calcium channel blockers (CCBs): CCBs keep calcium from entering the muscle cells of the heart and blood vessels. This causes the blood vessels to relax and pressure goes down.
- Alpha-blockers: Alpha-blockers reduce nerve impulses to blood vessels, which allows blood to pass more easily, causing blood pressure to go down.
- Alpha-beta-blockers: Alpha-beta-blockers work the same way as alpha-blockers but also slow the heartbeat, as beta-blockers do. As a result, less blood is pumped through the vessels and blood pressure drops.
- Nervous system inhibitors: Nervous system inhibitors relax blood vessels by controlling nerve impulses. This causes the blood vessels to become wider and blood pressure to go down.
- Vasodilators: Vasodilators directly open blood vessels by relaxing the muscle in the vessel walls, causing the blood pressure to go down.
Questions to Ask Your Health Professional
- Is my blood pressure under good control?
- How often should I have my blood pressure checked?
- What is a healthy weight for me?
- Is it safe for me to start doing regular physical activity?
- Can any of my medications affect my blood pressure?