High Blood Pressure Drugs (Hypertension)

  • Pharmacy Author:
    Omudhome Ogbru, PharmD

    Dr. Ogbru received his Doctorate in Pharmacy from the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy in 1995. He completed a Pharmacy Practice Residency at the University of Arizona/University Medical Center in 1996. He was a Professor of Pharmacy Practice and a Regional Clerkship Coordinator for the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy from 1996-99.

  • Medical Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD
    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

How to choose a high blood pressure (hypertension) medicine

There are a number of types and classes of drugs available for the management and treatment of high blood pressure (hypertension). Your doctor or other health care professional will prescribe a drug that fits your specific needs based on your medical condition, and any other existing health problems you may have, for example, kidney disease, heart disease, or diabetes. Your doctor also may recommend other therapies and lifestyle changes like getting more exercise, managing stress, and eating a healthy diet.

This information will provide a list of high blood pressure medication generic and brand names, their uses (treatment, management, or prevention of health problems, how they work (mechanism of action), and common side effects.

Angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors

Angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors are blood pressure medications that inhibit the activity of the enzyme angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE), which is important for controlling blood pressure.

Angiotensin II is a very potent chemical formed in the blood by ACE from, angiotensin I. When formed, angiotensin II causes the muscles surrounding blood vessels to contract, thus narrowing the vessels and increasing blood pressure. ACE inhibitors are medications that inhibit the activity of ACE which decreases the production of angiotensin II. As a result, these medications cause the blood vessels to enlarge or dilate, and this reduces blood pressure. This lower blood pressure makes it easier for the heart to pump blood and can improve the function of a failing heart. In addition, the progression of kidney disease due to high blood pressure or diabetes is slowed.

Common side effects of this ACE inhibitors

This list is not does not include all side effects or adverse events for ACE inhibitors.

This class of medicine also are used for other health conditions, for example:

Examples of generic and brand names available for ACE inhibitors

Angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs)

Angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs) are medications used to treat elevated blood pressure, or hypertension. These medications that block the action of angiotensin II by preventing angiotensin II from binding to angiotensin II receptors on the muscles surrounding blood vessels. As a result, blood vessels enlarge (dilate), and blood pressure is reduced. Reduced blood pressure makes it easier for the heart to pump blood and can improve heart failure. In addition, the progression of kidney disease due to high blood pressure or diabetes is slowed. ARBs have effects similar to ACE inhibitors, but ACE inhibitors act by preventing the formation of angiotensin II rather than by blocking the binding of angiotensin II to muscles on blood vessels.

Common side effects of ARBs

This list is not does not include all side effects or adverse events for ARBs.

This class of medicine also are used for other health conditions, for example:

  • Prevention and treatment of diabetes kidney disease
  • Heart failure

Examples of generic and brand names available for ARBs

Beta-blockers

Beta blockers are medications that block norepinephrine and epinephrine (adrenaline) from binding to both beta 1 and beta 2 receptors on organs and muscles, including the muscles surrounding blood vessels that cause the blood vessels to narrow and the heart to beat. By blocking the effect of norepinephrine and epinephrine, beta blockers reduce blood pressure by dilating blood vessels and reducing heart rate. They also may constrict air passages because stimulation of beta receptors in the lung cause the muscles that surround the air passages to contract.

Common side effects of beta blockers

This list is not does not include all side effects or adverse events for beta blockers.

This class of medicine also are used for other health conditions, for example:

Examples of brand and generic names available for beta blockers

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/15/2017

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