Debra Wood, RN
The information provided here is meant to give you a general idea about each of the medications listed below. Only the most general side effects are included, so ask your doctor if you need to take any special precautions. Use each of these medications as recommended by your doctor, or according to the instructions provided. If you have further questions about usage or side effects, contact your doctor.
Many different medications are available to lower your blood pressure. Your doctor will discuss the options with you and help you select a medication plan to meet your needs. Many times more than one drug is needed to control blood pressure.
Blood pressure medications must be taken daily. Do not stop taking your medication on your own. If you develop side effects, notify your doctor.
You may be able to get the dose adjusted or have another drug prescribed to help minimize side effects while controlling your blood pressure.
can be controlled, not cured. Taking your medications as ordered is vital to controlling this condition and reducing the risk of complications. It may be necessary to take the medications indefinitely.
Be sure to discuss any questions or problems with your doctor.
Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
Angiotensin II antagonists
Calcium channel blockers
Alpha beta blockers
Centrally-acting nervous system drugs
Common names include:
Diuretics help the kidneys get rid of excess water and sodium by increasing urine production. Lower fluid levels in your blood can reduce pressure on your blood vessels. These medications are sometimes referred to as “water pills.”
Possible side effects include:
Beta blockers reduce demands on the heart by reducing the rate and force of contraction. Less force from the heart will lead to lower blood pressure.
Beta blockers may not be the first-line treatment for hypertension.
ACE inhibitors relax the blood vessels and lower blood pressure by blocking the production of a hormone that causes the blood vessels to constrict.
Angiotensin antagonists relax the blood vessels and lower blood pressure by shielding the blood vessels from a hormone that causes the blood vessels to constrict.
Calcium channel blockers relax the blood vessels and lower blood pressure by blocking some activities of heart and blood vessel muscle cells.
Alpha blockers lower blood pressure by decreasing nerve impulses to the blood vessels. This relaxes the blood vessels and helps lower blood pressure.
Alpha-beta blockers lower blood pressure by decreasing nerve impulses to the blood vessels. They also slow the heart rate and decrease the force of contraction. This decreases the workload of the heart and helps lower the blood pressure.
Nervous system drugs lower blood pressure by controlling nerve impulses and relaxing blood vessels. These drugs can be taken orally. Clonidine is available through a skin patch.
Common name—hydralazine hydrochloride
Vasodilators lower blood pressure by directly relaxing blood vessel walls.
If you are taking medications, follow these general guidelines:
Note: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and naproxen, can elevate blood pressure and make your medications less effective. Talk to your doctor about other medications you may be able to take.
Contact your doctor if you:
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How is high blood pressure treated? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
website. Available at:
Updated September 10, 2015. Accessed September 20, 2016.
Hypertension. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115345/Hypertension. Updated August 29, 2016. Accessed September 20, 2016.
Medications and blood pressure. American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/PreventionTreatmentofHighBloodPressure/Medications-and-Blood-Pressure_UCM_301888_Article.jsp. Updated July 6, 2016. Accessed September 20, 2016.
The Seventh Report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure: The JNC 7 Report.
2/28/2014 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillancehttp://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114476/Antihypertensive-medication-selection-and-management: CS Wiysonge, H Bradley, Volmink J, et al. Beta-blockers for hypertension. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012;11:CD002003.
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http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T905359/Choosing-Wisely: Choosing wisely. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T905359/Choosing-Wisely. Updated July 23, 2015. Accessed September 20, 2016.
Last reviewed September 2016 by Michael J. Fucci, DO, FACC
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