Blood Pressure Medicines

If making changes in your lifestyle—such as reducing stress and losing weight—doesn’t lower your blood pressure, your doctor may want you to take blood pressure medicine. Most people who take blood pressure medicine take it for life.

This is a list of the main kinds of blood pressure medicine and how they work:

  • ACE (Angiotensin Converting Enzyme) Inhibitors: helps relax your blood vessels
  • Alpha-blockers: relaxes the muscles in your arteries
  • Angiotension II receptor blockers: works similarly to ACE inhibitors as it keeps your arteries from being too narrow
  • Beta-blockers: affects how many times and how strong your heart beats
  • Calcium antagonists (calcium channel blockers): keeps the muscles within your artery walls from squeezing too tight
  • Diuretics (water pills): helps get rid of extra fluids and sodium (salt) in your body

Finding the blood pressure medicine that works for you

The right medicine for you is one that controls your blood pressure with the least unwanted side effects. Some people have to take more than one blood pressure medicine to get the desired results. You may have to try several different medicines, or combination of medicines before finding the one that works for you.

While you’re trying to find the right medicine for you, it is important that you take the medicine and check your blood pressure exactly as your doctor tells you to. Keeping a chart recording the name of the medicine, the time when you take it, the time you take your blood pressure, your blood pressure reading, and any side effects that you notice can help make the process of finding the right medicine much easier.

Mixing with other medicines

When you take any type of medicine, you should always ask your doctor or pharmacist before taking other medicines at the same time. Even over-the-counter medicines can contain sodium or caffeine that can raise blood pressure, speed up your heartbeat, or narrow blood vessels. Also, try not to start two new medicines at the exact same time. That way, if you have problem or a reaction you know which medicine likely caused it.