Medications Used to Treat Hypertension

Hypertension, which is an elevated blood pressure, can often be controlled by eating right and preforming regular exercise, as well as reducing factors that cause stress. However, in some cases, this is not enough and medication is required.

Deciding whether a person needs medication or not is a decision for a doctor and is usually based on the physical condition of the patient, as well as how great of a risk the doctor feels thee is for complications.

There are a number of different types of medications used to treat hypertension and typically the medication prescribed depends on what risk factor that doctor is addressing. For example, patients who were more at risk for a stroke might receive a medication designed to help with clotting.

Common Types of Medications Used to Treat Hypertension

  • Diuretics: Diuretics are one of the oldest types of medications used to treat hypertension and are often called water pills. Diuretics are also relatively inexpensive and are intended to decrease the amount of sodium and water in the body, which helps reduce the work load on the kidney, as well as reducing the overall volume of blood in the body. Diuretics are linked to gout, which is a type of arthritis, as well as having several other health risks, such as causing headaches and frequent urination.
  • Direct-Acting Vasodilators: Direct-Acting Vasodilators are designed to help relax the blood vessels, making it easier for blood to flow. Since they take effect very quickly, Direct-Acting Vasodilators are often used in emergency situations, but they do increase heart rate, which is dangerous to someone with hypertension, so medications are usually prescribed to counteract this.
  • Calcium-Channel Blockers: Calcium Channel Blockers, or CCBs, work to reduce the rate at which calcium moves into the cells of the heart and blood vessels, which reduces the strength of the heart muscle contractions.
  • Peripheral Adrenergic Receptor Blockers: These types of medications are designed to block neurotransmitters from stimulating the heart and blood vessels, operating either as Beta Blockers or Alpha Blockers. Beta Blockers help reduce heart rate, by attaching to beta receptors and blocking the receptors from being activated. Alpha Blockers, on the other hand, operate similarity, except that they work to slow the responses of the blood vessels.
  • Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers: Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers help reduce sodium and water retention by blocking angiotensin II, which causes the blood vessels to constrict. Generally, Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers are considered safer than ACE inhibitors, while offering similar benefits.
  • Angiotension-Converting Enzyme Inhibitors: Angiotension-Converting Enzyme Inhibitors are designed to prevent the kidneys from retaining sodium, instead passing it out of the body. Often Called ACE Inhibitors, a major advantage to them is that they are safer for those with diabetes, causing less wear and tear on the kidneys.

When selecting a medication, your doctor will determine what other health risks you have, choosing the best medication to help treat your condition, without aggravating these risks. Often, a combination of drugs are used, in an effort to mitigate some of the side effects of the medications.

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