ACE inhibitors and beta blockers are used in the treatment of high blood pressure. This article provides some information about them and also a comparison between the two, in terms of their nature, mode of action, and the preferred drug for an affected person.
High blood pressure is a condition seen in many. However, the causes behind this increase in blood pressure may be due to various reasons. Depending on the cause, the treatment given differs. High blood pressure can develop due to various reasons such as narrowed arteries due to high cholesterol or then altered secretion of certain hormones which constrict or dilate blood vessels. The drugs used in the treatment of high blood pressure are used to dilate blood vessels. ACE inhibitors and beta blockers are two of the many drugs given to treat hypertension.
What are ACE Inhibitors?
These are angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors. The kidney secretes a protein called renin that produces another protein called angiotensin. The angiotensin stimulates the production of the aldosterone hormone. This phenomenon takes place in response to lowered blood pressure. Thus, renin formed in this situation converts angiotensin to angiotensin I, which is then converted to angiotensin II by the angiotensin – converting enzyme. This conversion increases the blood pressure in response to the decreased blood pressure.
Thus, in treatment of hypertension, especially in the people affected by diabetes and kidney problems, ACE inhibitors are used, which stop this conversion of angiotensin I to angiotensin II and prevent the increase in blood pressure. This hypertension medication lowers arteriolar resistance, increases the cardiac output, and also leads to an increase in urine output known as natriuresis. There are various side effects of these drugs that must be considered when one consumes them.
What are Beta Blockers?
These are agents that block the beta receptors which bind with hormones or chemical transmitters such as catecholamines which cause an increase in blood pressure. Beta receptors are classified into many groups. Of these, a1 receptors are present on the heart and kidneys. They govern the rate of contraction of the heart along with blood pressure. These drugs are used in the treatment of cardiac problems such as arrhythmias, myocardial infarction, and hypertension.
Thus, various a1 blockers are used in the treatment of hypertension to balance the increased blood pressure. Beta blockers primarily inhibit the effect of epinephrine. Epinephrine is the reason for physical excitement, increase in heart rate, and contraction and also constriction of blood vessels. Thus, they reverse the effect of epinephrine, by inhibiting the binding of this hormone to the beta-adrenergic receptors.
Difference between ACE Inhibitors and Beta Blockers
The major difference is that the beta blockers are used to block receptors of catecholamines, whereas ACE inhibitors block the conversion of angiotensin. Other points of differentiation are:
- Beta blockers have an effect on the heart rate and contraction thus, lowering blood pressure. ACE inhibitors on the other hand act as vasodilators by regulating certain kidney functions and have an effect on the blood vessels rather than the heart directly.
- Beta blockers are used when a person experiences cardiac problems. ACE inhibitors are prescribed when an individual is affected by problems in the kidney function.
These are the only points of differences while comparing these two drugs. It is important to remember however that, many a time, situations arise where a person may be affected by some complex disorders where he/she may experience kidney as well as heart problems. In such cases, both drugs may be prescribed in combination. While this drug is administered there are risks of high blood pressure medication involved.
There are various other drugs which are used such as alpha blockers, calcium channel blockers, angiotensin II receptor blockers, and diuretics for high blood pressure. Thus, it should now be clear that both these drugs are anti-hypertensive, only differing in the way they act to control blood pressure.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.