High blood pressure or hypertension occurs when the pressure of the blood exerted on the blood vessels is higher than the normal values of 120/80 mm Hg. This can lead to serious complications and hence needs to be treated without delay.(1) High blood pressure is now considered as the global epidemic and around 1 in 3 adults in the US are affected by it while about 2 million new cases are being diagnosed every year.(2) It is one of the leading causes of cardiovascular diseases; however, this can be prevented by following the appropriate measures to lower the blood pressure. High blood pressure can be treated through non-pharmacological (if it is in the initial stage) or with the help of multiple medications.
What are the Most Popular Medication for High Blood Pressure?
The choice of medication for treating high blood pressure often depends on the severity of the condition, overall health, age, sex, race of the patients and presence of other underlying conditions.(1) Each medication is associated with list of pros and cons, and quite often the doctor prescribes a combination of medication to achieve the best result or to nullify the side effects of certain drugs.(3) The most popular medications used for management of high blood pressure are listed below:
Diuretics as the Most Popular Medication for High Blood Pressure: These are also known as ‘water pills’. As the name suggests, water pills work by removing excess water and sodium from the body. This reduces the pressure exerted against the walls of the blood vessels by reducing the flow of fluid through the vessels.(4) Diuretics are of 3 types as listed below:
- Potassium Sparing
The most common examples of diuretics are chlorothiazide, bumetanide and amiloride.
ACE Inhibitors (Angiotensin Converting Enzymes) Is Also One Of The Popular High Blood Pressure Medication: These drugs work by restricting the formation of a chemical called as angiotensin. This chemical causes constriction of blood vessels. Reduced production of angiotensin thus reduces constriction of blood vessels. This reduces the pressure exerted by fluids in the vessels.(5) Examples of ACE inhibitors include lisinopril, enalapril, ramipril etc.
ARBs (Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers): This is another class of drugs which target angiotensin. These drugs act by blocking off the action of angiotensin.(6) Some of the common examples of ARBs are losartan and valsartan.
Calcium Channel Blockers : These drugs act by restricting calcium ions from entering cells of the heart and other vessels, thus relaxing the vessels and reducing the blood pressure.(7) Examples of calcium channel blockers include diltiazem, amlodipine, verapamil, nifedipine etc.
Beta Blockers as the Most Popular Medication for High Blood Pressure: Beta blockers block the actions of adrenaline (Epinephrine). These reduce the cardiac load by causing the heart to beat slower and thus pump blood with lesser force.(8) Examples include metoprolol, nadolol, atenolol etc.
Renin Inhibitors as a Medication for High Blood Pressure: Renin inhibitors inhibits the action of renin, a substance that triggers increase in blood pressure through a series of reactions in the body.(9) Some common examples of renin inhibitors include Aliskiren or Tekturna.
As mentioned earlier, it is tough to say which among these will be the most effective and hence popular medication as the prescription varies from one patient to another. In most of the cases, a combination of the above drugs is given depending on the severity of the condition.
Other High Blood Pressure Medications
There are few other medications which are prescribed for management of high blood pressure. These are not popular or commonly used as the above mentioned drugs. These blood pressure lowering medications are listed below:
Alpha Blockers for High Blood Pressure: Alpha blockers act by blocking the actions of adrenaline or epinephrine from tightening the walls of arteries and veins.(10) This results in the vessels to remain open and relaxed. Examples – doxazosin, prazosin, terazosin.
Alpha-beta Blockers as a Medication for High Blood Pressure: These are usually prescribed if the patient is at risk of heart failure along with elevated blood pressure.(11) The mode of action is quite similar to alpha blockers. Examples – labetalol and coreg.
Vasodilators as a Medication for High Blood Pressure: Vasodilators aid in smooth and relaxed flow of blood in the blood vessels. This is because vasodilators, as the name indicate causes dilation of the vessels.(12) As the results the hearts pumps blood with less pressure or load. Examples – Minoxidil and hydralazine.
Central Acting Agents for High Blood Pressure: These act on the central nervous system and block the transmission of signals from brain to the nervous systems.(13) As a result the heart doesn’t pump too hard and removes off the pressure from the vessels. Examples – Clonidine, methyldopa, guanfacine.
Aldosterone Antagonists as a Medication for High Blood Pressure: Aldosterone antagonists are often used in conjunction with other drugs such as a diuretic. This is given to hypertensive patients with diabetes or heart failure.(14) Examples – Spironolactone and eplerenone.
All the above mentioned medicines are potent enough to lower the blood pressure. However, it really depends on the physician to prescribe the best suited medicine for the person depending on the age, sex, and also other underlying conditions. Hence, it is extremely necessary to consult a physician and take the medicine as per their advice.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. High blood pressure. www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/ . Accessed March 21, 2009.
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