High Blood Pressure
Frequently Asked Questions
16. What medications are commonly used to treat high blood pressure?
Today, many different types of medicines are available to control high blood pressure. These medicines work in different ways. Some lower blood pressure by removing extra fluid and salt from your body. Others affect blood pressure by slowing down the heartbeat, or by relaxing and widening blood vessels. Often, two or more drugs work better than one.
Here are the types of medicines commonly used to treat high blood pressure.
- Diuretics are sometimes called "water pills." They work by helping your kidneys flush excess water and salt from your body. This reduces the amount of fluid in your blood, and your blood pressure goes down. There are different types of diuretics. They are often given with other high blood pressure medicines and may be combined with another medicine in one pill.
- Beta blockers cause your heart to beat more slowly and with less force. Your heart pumps less blood through the blood vessels, and your blood pressure goes down.
- Angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors keep your body from making a hormone called angiotensin II, which normally causes blood vessels to narrow. ACE inhibitors prevent this narrowing so your blood pressure goes down.
- Angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBS) are blood pressure drugs that protect your blood vessels from angiotensin II. They make the blood vessels relax and become wider, and your blood pressure goes down.
- Calcium channel blockers (CCBs) keep calcium from entering the muscle cells of your heart and blood vessels. This causes blood vessels to relax, and your blood pressure goes down.
- Vasodilators open blood vessels by directly relaxing the muscle in the vessel walls, causing blood pressure to go down.
- Alpha blockers reduce nerve impulses that tighten blood vessels, allowing blood to pass more easily and causing blood pressure to go down.
- Alpha-beta blockers reduce nerve impulses to blood vessels the same way alpha blockers do, but they also slow the heartbeat, as beta blockers do. As a result, blood pressure goes down.
- Nervous system inhibitors relax blood vessels by controlling nerve impulses from the brain. This causes blood vessels to become wider and blood pressure to go down.