Your blood pressure reading describes the force with which blood exerts pressure on the walls of the veins and arteries in your body. High blood pressure (hypertension) puts sufferers at risk of serious health concerns including heart attack, stroke, heart failure, kidney failure, vision loss and more. If you are diagnosed with high blood pressure, your doctor will work with you to determine a treatment plan composed of lifestyle adjustments, diet changes, exercise and, most likely, medication to help lower and regulate your blood pressure, preventing future health emergencies.
How Blood Pressure Medication Works
If you search for a list of blood pressure medications, an infinite number of varieties and brands seem to be available. These medications lower and regulate blood pressure in a lot of different ways, giving doctors plenty of avenues for treatment options. All blood pressure medications fall into a few basic categories:
- Diuretics – These control blood pressure by helping the body eliminate excess sodium and water.
- Beta-Blockers – Reduce the volume of blood pumped by the heart, the heart’s workload and rate.
- Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme (ACE) Inhibitors – Angiotensin causes arteries to harden. Inhibiting this enzyme helps these passageways to open up, lowering blood pressure.
- Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers (ARBs) – ARBs prevent angiotensin from narrowing arteries by blocking receptor cells which interact with the enzyme.
- Calcium Channel Blockers – In the heart’s and arteries’ smooth muscle cells, calcium causes the muscles to contract harder and stronger. Reducing calcium in these muscles, decreases the blood’s force on artery walls.
- Alpha Blockers – These medications reduce blood pressure by relaxing muscle tone within the vascular walls.
- Alpha-2 Receptor Agonists – These limit the activity of the portion of the nervous system that produces adrenaline to lower blood pressure. These medications are often prescribed to expecting mothers, as they have been shown to be safe for a developing fetus.
- Combined Alpha and Beta Blockers – These are used during a cardiac crisis event to immediately lower a patient’s blood pressure. These combined medications are sometimes prescribed for out-patient administration, if a patient is considered at high risk of cardiac arrest.
- Central Agonists – These reduce the ability of blood vessels to contract and tense, reducing blood pressure.
- Peripheral Adrenergic Inhibitors – These medications address blood pressure within the brain by blocking the neurotransmitters responsible for sending the signal to muscles prompting them to constrict. These inhibitors are typically only used when other medications and treatment strategies fail.
- Vasodilators (Blood Vessel Dilators) – These medications relax the muscles within blood vessels and arteries, allowing them to expand and relieve blood pressure.
Sticking to the Plan
Anytime your doctor prescribes medication or a combination of prescriptions for a treatment plan, it is important that you closely follow instructions. Neglecting prescription drug doses and schedule instructions can be dangerous. T
aking these medications improperly can render the drugs ineffective, create irregular blood pressure or even lower your blood pressure too drastically. Be sure to stick with the treatment plan recommended by your physician, clarify any uncertainties you might have, and talk to your doctor before making changes to your prescription medication regimen.