If a trial of making lifestyle changes isn't enough to control your blood pressure, you'll likely receive a prescription for one or more of these medications in addition to maintaining your lifestyle measures.High blood pressure, also called hypertension, usually has no symptoms. But it can cause serious problems such as stroke, heart failure, heart attack and kidney failure. If you cannot control your high blood pressure through lifestyle changes such as losing weight and reducing sodium in your diet, you may need medicines.Blood pressure medicines work in different ways to lower blood pressure. Some remove extra fluid and salt from the body. Others slow down the heartbeat or relax and widen blood vessels. Often, two or more medicines work better than one.
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Diuretics (water pills). Your doctor might first suggest diuretics, which remove excess water and sodium from your body. That decreases the amount of fluid flowing through your blood vessels, which reduces pressure on your vessel walls.
There are three types of diuretics: thiazide, loop and potassium-sparing. The Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure recommends that most people try thiazide diuretics first to treat high blood pressure and heart problems related to high blood pressure.
If diuretics aren't enough to lower your blood pressure, your doctor might recommend adding other blood pressure medications to your treatment.
Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors. These help relax blood vessels by preventing the formation of a hormone called angiotensin, a substance in your body that narrows blood vessels. Frequently prescribed ACE inhibitors include enalapril (Vasotec), lisinopril (Prinivil, Zestril) and ramipril (Altace).
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Angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs). These help relax blood vessels by blocking the action, not the formation, of angiotensin, a chemical in your body that narrows blood vessels. ARBs include valsartan (Diovan), losartan (Cozaar) and others.
Calcium channel blockers. These medications prevent calcium from entering heart and blood vessel muscle cells, thus causing the cells to relax. Frequently prescribed calcium channel blockers include amlodipine (Norvasc), diltiazem (Cardizem, Tiazac, others) and nifedipine (Adalat CC, Afeditab CR, Procardia).
Beta blockers. Also known as beta-adrenergic blocking agents, these work by blocking the effects of the hormone epinephrine, also known as adrenaline. They cause your heart to beat slower and with less force.
Frequently prescribed beta blockers include metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol-XL), nadolol (Corgard) and atenolol (Tenormin).
Renin inhibitors. Renin is an enzyme produced by your kidneys that starts a chain of chemical steps that increases blood pressure. Aliskiren (Tekturna) slows the production of renin, reducing its ability to begin this process.