If you've been diagnosed with high blood pressure, then it's likely you and your doctor have discussed a plan to lower your blood pressure. For most people, medication is a major part of that plan. High blood pressure drugs are also called "anti-hypertensive" medicine.
Your doctor has many different high blood pressure drugs to choose from. These medications work in a variety of ways to lower blood pressure. Remember, though, that they do not cure high blood pressure. Rather, the goal of high blood pressure medicine is to control your blood pressure, bringing it back down to a normal level.
Your doctor says you need to make some changes in your life: Start a heart-healthy diet, exercise a little, stop smoking, and more. You also walked away with some medication to take. Perhaps you're wondering: Why can't medicine alone do the trick? Does lifestyle really make a difference?
What are the different types of high blood pressure medicines? How do they control high blood pressure? Let's take a closer look at each group.
Diuretics for High Blood Pressure
This type of high blood pressure medicine helps your kidneys remove salt and water from your body. One of the results is that you have less blood volume circulating in your blood vessels. Less volume in the vessels leads to lower blood pressure.
Diuretics are often called "water pills." They are usually the first type of high blood pressure drug that your doctor will try. Here are some examples:
Esidrix, Hydrodiuril, and Microzide (hydrochlorothiazide or HCTZ)
Hygroton and Thalitone (chlorthalidone)
Midamor (amiloride hydrochloride)
Mykrox and Zaroxolyn (metolazone)
Your doctor may ask you to take one or even two diuretics at once. Here are some examples of combination diuretics:
Aldactazide (spironolactone and hydrochlorothiazide)
Dyazide and Maxzide (hydrochlorothiazide and triamterene)
Moduretic (amiloride hydrochloride and hydrochlorothiazide)
Beta-Blockers and High Blood Pressure
This type of high blood pressure medicine makes the heartbeat slow down. Beta-blockers also keep your heart from pumping so hard. This makes blood go through your vessels with less force. The pressure inside your blood vessels goes down.
Here are some examples of beta-blockers:
Cartrol (carteolol hydrochloride)
Levatol (penbutolol sulfate)
Lopressor and Toprol XL (metoprolol)
Zebeta (bisoprolol fumarate)
Normodyne and Trandate (labetolol)
How Alpha-Blockers Lower High Blood Pressure
This type of high blood pressure medicine reduces nerve impulses that tell your vessels to tighten. Your blood vessels remain relaxed, lowering your overall blood pressure.
Here are some examples of alpha-blockers:
High Blood Pressure and ACE Inhibitors
ACE inhibitors -- angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors -- are a type of high blood pressure medicine prevents your body from making angiotensin II. Angiotensin II is a hormone that makes blood vessels tighten. Because ACE inhibitors lower the amount of this hormone in your body, your blood vessels remain relaxed. Blood flows more easily through the vessels, lowering your overall blood pressure.