Hypertension or high blood pressure is an ailment affecting nearly 33 percent of the population. In an individual diagnosed with high blood pressure, force is overexerted on the arteries where blood passes through. Over time, this results in damage to the blood vessels as well as on the organs that bear the force. This is where common blood pressure medications are needed to control the blood volume and, in turn, lower blood pressure.
How is Blood Pressure Assessed?
Two parameters are used to measure one’s blood pressure. These are the systolic and diastolic pressures. Systolic measures the maximum pressure applied to the arteries when the heart contracts. On the other hand, diastolic measures the minimum pressure applied to the vessels in the middle of cardiac contractions. The normal blood pressure for systolic should be between 90 to 120, whereas the normal blood pressure for diastolic is between 60 to 80.
The measurements of blood pressure are categorized into four. These include the following.
- Normal Blood Pressure: Below 120/80 mm Hg
- Elevated Blood Pressure: Systolic ranges from 120 to 129 mm Hg; Diastolic ranges from 80 mm Hg downwards
- Stage 1 High Blood Pressure: Systolic ranges from 130 to 139 mm Hg; Diastolic ranges from 80 to 89 mm Hg
- Stage 2 High Blood Pressure: Systolic ranges from 140 mm Hg or above; Diastolic ranges from 90 mm Hg upwards.
Take note, however, that the average blood pressure range changes in individuals over the age of 50.
Primary hypertension happens over time whereas various medications and conditions can cause secondary hypertension. These include the following.
- Birth Defects, Specifically in Blood Vessels
- Illegal Drugs Such as Cocaine and Amphetamine
- Kidney Problems
- Medications Like Decongestants, Cold Remedies, Birth Control Pills, Some Prescription Drugs, and Non-Prescription Pain Relievers
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea
- Thyroid Problems
- Tumors in Adrenal Gland
Common Blood Pressure Medications
While lifestyle changes and a healthy diet are recommended to keep one’s blood pressure normal, some medications are prescribed as well. These include the following.
A diuretic heightens the need to urinate. This, in turn, reduces fluid and sodium retained by the body. It leads to a lowered blood pressure due to a lowered blood volume. Mild hypertension can be treated with the help of a diuretic alone. However, diuretics are commonly combined with other hypertension medications and the mineral potassium. This is because diuretics decrease the supply of potassium in the body which may lead to the following side effects.
- Leg Cramps
These medications act directly on one’s heart by reducing the force of pumping and the heart rate. It also reduces blood volume. Nonetheless, this medication also comes with adverse reactions which are as follows.
- Cold Feet or Hands
- Depression or Tiredness
- Slow Heartbeat
- Symptoms of Asthma
3. ACE Inhibitors
Angiotensin-converting enzymes or ACE inhibitors work by decreasing angiotensin production. Angiotensin is one of the many hormones in the body which causes the narrowing of blood vessels. Some of the noted side effects from the use of this drug include the following.
- Chronic Cough (Dry or Hacking)
- Kidney Damage
- Loss of Taste
- Skin Rash
This drug is prohibited for use in pregnant women as it may pose serious health problems to the developing fetus. It may lead to hyperkalemia or severe kidney failure. In worst-case scenarios, the child in the womb may also die.
4. Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers
As mentioned, angiotensin is a hormone that narrows the blood vessels leading to high blood pressure. However, for it to work, it needs a place to attach to. Angiotensin II receptor blockers work by preventing angiotensin from attaching itself to receptors located in blood vessels. This drug also has side effects such as users suffering from occasional dizziness.
5. Calcium Channel Blockers
Calcium is a mineral that aids in strengthening the force of contractions in the blood vessels and heart. Too much, of course, can cause hypertension. Calcium channel blockers work by inhibiting calcium entering into the smooth muscle tissue, thereby reducing the force of contractions. Some side effects that may manifest in individuals taking this medication include the following.
- Swollen Ankles
6. Alpha-2 Receptor Agonist
This is the first option considered as a treatment for hypertension in pregnant women. However, the side effects noted include dizziness or drowsiness.
This drug works by expanding the blood vessels; thus, lowering one’s blood pressure. It is also used in treating the enlargement of the prostate in men. A few adverse reactions of the drug include the following.
- Blood Pressure Drop When Standing Up
- Fast Heart Rate
8. Central Agonists
While other high blood pressure medications work directly on one’s cardiovascular system, other medications target the central nervous system. One such drug is a central agonist, which is likely to cause drowsiness or dizziness.
9. Peripheral Adrenergic Inhibitors
This drug is used when other medications fail to address hypertension. It works by blocking signals in the brain that cause constriction in the blood vessels. Side effects of the drug include the following.
- Stuffy Nose
This drug relaxes the muscles in the artery walls. It then causes the blood pressure to lower. Much like diuretics, these drugs are used in combination with other medications. It is also only prescribed for severe high blood pressure. Notable adverse reactions of the drug include the following.
- Excessive Hair Growth
- Fluid Retention
- Heart Palpitations
- Joint Pain
- Weight Gain
- Swelling Around the Eyes
These blood pressure medications do not work as well on all individuals with hypertension. What works for one person may worsen the condition of another. It is up to a healthcare professional to evaluate the effectivity of the drug and prescribe another medication in case it fails to address the problem of hypertension.
One can entirely avoid the risk of getting hypertension or high blood pressure by consuming a healthy diet and getting regular exercise. Unhealthy habits such as smoking and consuming excess alcohol should also be avoided or minimized.