Blood is a body fluid that carries oxygen and nutrients to various parts of the body. It is pumped by the heart and carried by blood vessels called veins and arteries. Blood exerts pressure on the walls of the veins and arteries while flowing through them. This pressure is medically referred to as blood pressure. Ideally, one's blood pressure must be 120/80 mm Hg. When blood pressure becomes higher than 140/90 mm Hg, one is said to suffer from high blood pressure or hypertension.
Those who live a sedentary lifestyle are definitely at an increased risk of developing this condition. Smoking, excessive consumption of alcohol, unhealthy dietary habits, stress and prolonged use of certain drugs can make one susceptible to hypertension. When one's blood pressure is high, the heart has to work harder to pump blood. This can lead to serious heart conditions or kidney problems. Thus, blood pressure must not be allowed to shoot up to dangerous levels. At times, doctors may prescribe water pills, which are also known as diuretics, for controlling hypertension. Scroll down to learn about the advantages or disadvantages of using water pills for high blood pressure.
How Do Diuretics Help in Treating Hypertension
The kidneys are paired organs that remove waste products from the blood. These wastes are then flushed out of the body in the form of urine. When kidneys are unable to filter blood and remove wastes, excess fluid and salts get reabsorbed into the blood. The blood volume increases due to the accumulation of fluids and high level of sodium or salts into the blood. The heart has to work harder and one is most likely to suffer from hypertension due to these bodily changes. Under such circumstances, doctors may prescribe diuretics for high blood pressure. Diuretics help in removing excess sodium and fluids from the body. These drugs also increase the production of urine, thereby preventing the absorption of water and minerals into blood. When the blood volume remains normal, the heart does not need to work harder to pump the blood. Thus, blood pressure stays within the normal limits.
Types of Diuretic Pills
What are the different types of diuretics that are used for treating high blood pressure? These include thiazides, osmotic diuretics, loop diuretics and potassium-sparing water pills. Loop diuretics are drugs that prevent the reabsorption of sodium into the blood. Their effect is seen in the loop of Henle of the kidneys which is why such pills are called loop diuretics. Thiazide pills dilate the blood vessels and lower the amount of sodium and water in the body. Osmotic diuretics, as the name suggests, work on the principle of osmosis. These are diuretic pills that prevent the reabsorption of sodium and water. These increase the volume of urine as well. Potassium-sparing diuretics help in reducing the amount of sodium, but retain potassium in the body at the same time. Spironolactone, Torsemide, Chlorothiazide, Methyclothiazide, Hydrochlorothiazide, Furosemide, Indapamide, Hydroflumethiazide, Chlorthalidone and Metolazone are names of some of the common diuretic pills.
While diuretics can help in lowering the blood pressure, doctors may sometimes prescribe other anti-hypertensives for treating high blood pressure. Though one can buy these pills over the counter, it would be best to take these pills under medical supervision. Diuretics can sometimes give rise to certain side effects. Dizziness, headaches, upset stomach, muscle cramps, frequent urination and increased thirst are some of the common side effects. Sometimes, the level of water and salts might become very low, thereby causing certain health problems. Severe dehydration could cause dryness of mouth, fatigue and dizziness. Diuretics can also considerably decrease the levels of potassium and cause a condition called hypokalemia. This is precisely the reason why doctors might prescribe potassium-sparing diuretics in combination with other water pills. An overdose must be avoided at all costs. Instead of using over the counter diuretics, take the ones that are prescribed by your doctor. Do take them as per the prescribed dosage. Pregnant women and nursing mothers must refrain from using these drugs.
While taking diuretics may help in normalizing blood pressure, one must make some lifestyle-related changes. For instance, one may greatly benefit by following a low sodium diet. Those who are grappling with the problem of high blood pressure can include natural diuretic foods to their diet. Stress is one of the most common causes of hypertension which is why one must try to stay relaxed and stress-free. Practicing yoga and meditation will also prove beneficial for such people.