High and low blood pressure must be treated medically to avoid various complications. Left untreated, high blood pressure may lead to stroke, vision loss, chronic kidney disease, heart disease and other blood vessel diseases. Apart from medications for blood pressure, patient’s lifestyle must be adjusted until it reaches an acceptable level.
Generally there are 5 classes of medications to treat high blood pressure with multiple medicine types and brands in each class:
- Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors –helping the blood vessels loosening and opening up, making blood pressure lower;
- Angiotensin receptor blockers – block the angiotensin effects. Angiotensin requires a receptor-like chemical ‘slot’ that matches in order to compress the blood vessel. Angiotensin receptor blockers stop the receptors in a way that the angiotensin can’t compress the blood vessel. Blood vessels remain open and blood pressure drops;
- Calcium-channel blockers – prevent calcium from getting into the smooth heart and muscle cells of arteries. Whenever calcium gets into these cells, it causes more powerful and firmer contraction; therefore by decreasing the calcium level the contraction of the heart is less dynamic. Calcium channel blockers loosen and open up narrowed blood vessels, decrease the pulse and make blood pressure lower;
- Diuretics (often called ‘water’ tablets)- help an organism dispose of sodium and water overflow, support adequate blood pressure; commonly prescribed together with other therapies;
- Beta-blockers – decrease the pulse, workload of heart, and blood output of heart, making blood pressure lower.
All medical preparations have slight or strong side effects, however blood pressure medications are pretty safe from this perspective as the majority of patients taking such drugs develop mild side effects or none of them at all.
Below are the most common side effects according to classes:
- ACE inhibitors: irritating cough - rarely;
- AR blockers: dizziness - rarely;
- CC blockers: dizziness, facial flushing, swollen ankles, astriction – rarely;
- Diuretics: gout attack and aggravation of existing gout, impotence - rarely;
- Beta-blockers: cool feet and hands, insomnia, tiresome, impotence – rarely.
Blood pressure medication for migraines is also practiced, however, it hasn’t proved to be quite a success.