Medications used to treat high blood pressure (BP) are called anti-hypertensive medicines. Hypertension medication depends on the age, overall health, and the level of increase in blood pressure. There are several groups of medications that lower blood pressure and each of them work in a different way. Usually a physician prescribes two or more types of medicines to a patient at a time. Given below are some of the common types of mecicines:
- Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme (ACE) Inhibitors
- Beta Blockers
- Calcium Channel Blockers (CCB)
- Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers (ARBs)
- Alpha Blockers
The side effects can, at times, be serious and therefore, it is helps to be aware of them and take necessary precautions to reduce their adverse effects.
Diuretics are used in the initial stages to lower the BP by reducing the sodium and water levels in the body. The reduction in the water content of the body leads to diuretics side effects, like, frequent urination, dry mouth, and dehydration. Consumption of fluids may help resolve these side effects. Diuretics also lower the potassium level in the body, which is an important element. Thus when doctors prescribe these medications they advise the person to eat foods that are high in potassium. A constant eye on potassium level is a must when a patient is under diuretics medication for blood pressure.
Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme (ACE) Inhibitors
ACE inhibitors reduce the blood pressure by reducing the production of chemicals that are responsible for constricting the blood vessels. Women who are trying to conceive should stay away from ACE inhibitors. Research has proved that these medicines can cause serious problems to both the mother and the fetus. Side effects of ACE inhibitors can be serious and it has been noticed that around ten percent of patients under ACE inhibitors medication, experience chronic non-productive cough. Sometimes these medications may cause allergic reactions, like, swelling of face, lips, etc. If any of these side effects are experienced, one should consult a doctor immediately, because in some cases they may cause kidney failure due to excessive increase in potassium levels.
Beta blockers lower the BP by reducing the rate at which the heart beats. These medications are also used to treat other health problems like, angina, arrhythmia, and migraine. Insomnia and depression are some of the beta blocker side effects. Sometimes these medicines may reduce the heart beats to such an extent that it results in heart failure. Impotency is a rare side effect of beta blockers.
Calcium Channel Blockers (CCB)
Calcium channel blockers prohibit the entry of calcium into the heart cells, thus lessening the force of contraction of the heart muscle and reducing the BP. The side effects of CCBs include nausea, dizziness, constipation, rashes, headache, and swelling of ankles.
Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers (ARBs)
ARBs work in the same manner as the ACE inhibitors. These medications are usually prescribed to patients who have experienced the side effects of ACE inhibitors. Although the side effects of this medicine are few, it includes occasional dizziness. Also, these medicines should not be administered to pregnant ladies.
Alpha blockers are similar to beta blockers but they block different receptors. They keep the blood vessels open, making it easy for the blood to flow and thereby reduce the blood pressure. Patients on these medications may exhibit side effects in the initial period of treatment, which may include headache, nausea, fatigue, dizziness, etc.
The side effects of various medications can be reduced with the help of a doctor's guidance. Many of these side effects are negligible when compared to the lowered blood pressure levels. However, these side effects should not be neglected, and a doctor should be consulted as soon as possible. A balanced diet along with regular exercises may help hypertension patients to lead a healthy life.