You will be surprised to know that about one-third of all Americans have high blood pressure or hypertension. It can lead to heart attack and stroke. It is very important to control the pressure so that you can lead a healthy life. It must be treated early so that further complications don’t occur.
What is High Blood Pressure?
When you have high blood pressure, a lot of force is exerted on the arteries when the blood is pumped through. This causes damage to the blood vessels and other organs. Blood pressure is measured using two parameters: the systolic and diastolic pressures. Systolic pressure is the maximum pressure that is exerted in the arteries when the heart contracts and diastolic pressure is the minimum pressure in the vessels between the cardiac contractions. Blood pressure is considered to be normal if the systolic pressure or top number is between 90 and 120 and the diastolic pressure or the bottom number is between 60 and 80.
Why High Blood Pressures Occur?
The exact reason why people have hypertension cannot be detected. However, if you have a family history of pressure then you are likely to have it too. If you are 60 years old or more then there is a high chance of having it. Those who are overweight also are at high risk of having high pressure. Drinking too much alcohol, smoking or eating a high salt diet can also cause high pressure.
Medications for High Blood Pressure
There are varieties of classes of hypertension medications available to lower the pressure. But before starting medication, you can bring in some lifestyle changes to control your pressure. There are some suggestions:
✔ Eat a healthy diet
✔ Maintain a healthy body weight
✔ Exercise regularly
✔ Limit consumption of alcohol
✔ Stop smoking
✔ Manage stress
If you see that your pressure is not in control even after these lifestyle changes then you should consult a doctor and start taking medications. Here are the different medications for hypertension.
This medicine increases urination and so sodium passes out of your body helping to lower the pressure. Bumetanide (Bumex), Chlorothiazide (Diuril), Chlorthalidone (Hygroton), etc. fall in this class of medicine. If you have mild hypertension then you can use diuretics alone. But if it’s severe then you need to take other medicines also along with Diuretics. One side effect of Diuretics is that the body loses potassium through the urine. Deficiency of potassium can cause fatigue, leg cramps, etc.
These act on the heart directly and lower the pressure. The medication helps to reduce heart rate, blood volume and the force of pumping as well. Beta blockers include Atenolol (Tenormin), Acebutolol (Sectral), Carvedilol (Coreg), Nadolol (Corgard), etc.
There is an enzyme in the body called Angiotensin that narrows the blood vessels. The ACE inhibitors help to reduce the production of angiotensin which helps to lower the pressure. Examples of ACE inhibitors are Captopril (Capoten), Benazepril hydrochloride (Lotensin), Perindopril (Aceon), Moexipril (Univasc), etc.
Peripheral Adrenergic Inhibitors
These medications block the neurotransmitters in the brain. So, the muscles don’t get the message to constrict. It is often used with other medications. Guanadrel (Hylorel), Reserpine (Serpasil), etc. are examples of this class of drug.
Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers
The hormone angiotensin narrows the blood vessels by binding to receptors on the blood vessels and Angiotensin II receptor blockers prevent this hormone from binding to the receptors. This way hypertension is reduced. Angiotensin II receptor blockers include Irbesartan (Avapro), Azilsartan (Edarbi), Candesartan (Atacand), Valsartan (Diovan).
This is preferred for colored and older people with heart problem or diabetes. Examples include Eplerenone (Inspra), Spironolactone (Aldactone), etc.
Calcium Channel Blockers
Calcium increases the force of contractions in the blood vessels. Calcium channel blockers reduce hypertension by blocking the entry of calcium and relaxing the blood vessels. Felodipine (Plendil), Clevidipine (Cleviprex), Nicardipine (Cardene SR), Nisoldipine (Sular), etc. are examples of Calcium channel blockers.
These cause the blood vessels to dilate and so lower the pressure. These include Prazosin hydrochloride (Minipress), Terazosin hydrochloride (Hytrin), etc.
Alpha-2 Receptor Agonist
Methyldopa or Aldomet is one of the oldest medications for pressure control. It lowers the pressure by working in the central nervous system.
Combined Alpha and Beta-Blockers
These are used for patients having a hypertensive crisis. It can be prescribed to them if they have a risk of heart attack. Carvedilol (Coreg) is an example of this class of medication.
These work on the central nervous system instead of the cardiovascular system. Drugs like Guanfacine hydrochloride (Tenex) Clonidine hydrochloride fall in this class.
These relax the artery wall muscles and so the pressure falls. Examples of Vasodilators include Minoxidil (Loniten) and Hydralazine (Apresoline).
The medications just recommended depending on ethnicity and age. If you are below 55 years old then you will be given ACE inhibitor or Angiotensin-2 receptor blocker. If you are older and of African origin, then you will be given Calcium channel blocker. If you have coronary artery disease then you will be prescribed Beta blocker. If you have diabetes then you will be given an ACE inhibitor which will protect your kidney and prevent further damage to the body organs due to diabetes.
Once you start taking medications for pressure, you will have to take it for the rest of your life. However, if the pressure stays in control for several years consistently then the doctor may decide to stop the medication. You should always take these medicines as directed by the doctor and never miss any dose. The medications may have side effects and in such case, you must inform the doctor. He may be able to change the medicine for you.
There is no best medicine for hypertension. No one drug works for everyone. So, the drug that will work for you depends on your health condition and medical history. You should report any side effects of the drugs immediately; otherwise, it might cause an adverse effect on your health. If you take medications as prescribed and follow a healthy lifestyle then you will be able to keep your pressure in control for the rest of your life.
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by Simon Davis