- Diseases, Disorders & Conditions
Hypertension Medications - Pros and Cons
Hypertension Medication - Pros
Hypertension medications can be useful under certain circumstances, but for the long term we like to advocate natural solutions,
Here are some of the more common medications used for hypertension and their benefits:
Hypertension Medications - Pros
Diuretics: Commonly called "water pills," are the oldest and least expensive class of drugs used to treat hypertension. They help the kidneys eliminate sodium and water from the body. This process decreases blood volume, so your heart has less to pump with each beat, which in turn lowers blood pressure.
Loop Diuretics: Act on the part of the kidney tubules called the loop of Henle, block sodium and chloride from being reabsorbed from the tubule into the bloodstream. Thiazide diuretics act on another portion of the kidney tubules to stop sodium from re-entering circulation.
The short version of diuretics is they thin the blood. This reduces the pressure in the arterial system and reduces blood pressure.
At times doctors will combine these with other drugs when the desired results are not achieved. The following drug types work more on the blood vessels, these hypertension medications are used more for a type1 condition.
- ACE inhibitors. This medication helps blood vessels relax by blocking the production of a hormone that causes blood vessels to narrow. Frequently prescribed ACE inhibitors include captopril (Capoten), lisinopril (Prinivil, Zestril) and ramipril (Altace).
- Angiotensin II receptor blockers. This medication allows blood vessels to widen by preventing a hormone called angiotensin from affecting vessels. Frequently prescribed angiotensin II receptor blockers include losartan (Cozaar), olmesartan (Benicar) and valsartan (Diovan).
- Beta blockers. This class of drugs works by reducing nerve signals to the heart and blood vessels, thus lowering blood pressure. Frequently prescribed beta blockers include metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol XL), nadolol (Corgard) and penbutolol (Levatol).
- Calcium channel blockers. This medication prevents calcium from going into heart and blood vessel muscle cells, thus causing the cells to relax, which lowers blood pressure. Frequently prescribed calcium channel blockers include amlodipine (Norvasc), diltiazem (Cardizem, Dilacor XR) and nifedipine (Adalat, Procardia).
As mentioned, there is definitely a place for medications when treating this disease, but natural long term alternatives are options to consider to avoid the side effects associated with medications.
Don't Ignore High Blood Pressure - high blood pressure is called the "silent killer" for a reason. The signs and symptoms are not always obvious and left untreated can lead to more severe health problems, like stroke and heart failure.
Hypertension Medications - Cons
The side effects of hypertension medications are well documented. These days the medical profession is on a mission to "treat" not cure. In many cases there is no cure and in such situations we must look at alternatives for long term management of the disease.
Hypertension Medications - Cons
The following are the different side-effects associated with each drug class:
Diuretics - weakness, confusion, potassium depletion, gout, fatigue, thirst, frequent urination, light headedness, muscle cramps, diarrhea or constipation, increased sensitivity to sunlight, allergic reaction in people allergic to sulfa drugs, impotence.
Loop Diuretics - weakness, confusion, potassium depletion, gout, fatigue, thirst, diarrhea or constipation, increased sensitivity to sunlight, allergic reaction in people allergic to sulfa drugs, impotence.
Potassium Sparing Diuretics - excessive potassium levels, especially in patients with kidney disease; breast enlargement and erectile dysfunction in men; menstrual irregularities in women.
Beta Blockers - wheezing, dizziness, depression, impotence, fatigue, insomnia, decreased HDL cholesterol levels, lower exercise tolerance. Can worsen peripheral vascular disease and heart failure. Abrupt withdrawal may trigger angina or a heart attack in patients with heart disease.
Calcium Channel Blockers - headache, dizziness, edema, and heartburn. Nifedipine can cause palpitations. Diltiazem and verapamil can cause constipation and a slowed heartbeat.
Ace Inhibitors - cough, rash, fluid retention, high potassium levels, and loss of taste. May cause low blood pressure and fainting. Can worsen kidney impairment if narrowed arteries feed both kidneys. May cause fetal abnormalities.
If you have the good fortune of getting advice from both a doctor and holistic professional, then you're getting the best of both worlds. There's a ton of data out there concerning high blood pressure; the more you know about hypertension, the better choices you can make when deciding your treatment alternatives.