Can't tell which high blood pressure medicine is a diuretic, beta-blocker or ACE inhibitor? National Heart Centre Singapore Senior Pharmacist Connie Wong shares some tips.
High blood pressure is a long-term condition
High blood pressure (hypertension) is a long-term medical condition in which one’s blood pressure remains higher than 140/90mmHg. Sustained high blood pressure can progressively damage the heart’s small and large blood vessels. This will affect the regulation of blood flow as well as other functions of blood vessels. Uncontrolled hypertension can cause serious complications including stroke, heart attack, kidney failure, and blindness.
High blood pressure can be managed with lifestyle modifications as well as medications. Common lifestyle changes include:
- Exercising regularly
- Stress management
- Weight management
- Reducing salt, sugar, fat and alcohol consumption
- Quit smoking
High blood pressure medicine: How they work and their side effects
If lifestyle modification measures do not work well enough, then medications could be prescribed to help control blood pressure. Medicines work in different ways to lower blood pressure, and the main categories of such medicines are: diuretics, beta-blockers, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEIs), angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs), calcium channel blockers, vasodilators, and alpha-blockers.
Medicines for lowering blood pressure can be used alone, or in combination (i.e. 2 or more medicines from different categories).
This group of medication is widely known as “water pills”. They work by helping your kidneys get rid of salt and water via the urine. This reduces the liquid volume which the heart has to pump, which in turn reduces the blood pressure. Common side effects include frequent urination, dizziness, and constipation. Potassium supplement may be prescribed to replace potassium loss from the urine.
Beta-blockers work by slowing down your heartbeat and reducing the force of the heart muscles, thereby reducing blood pressure. Patients who have history of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) should take this medication with caution as it may aggravate their condition. Common side effects are slow heart beat, lightheadedness, constipation, and cold extremities.
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types of high blood pressure medication.