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.

Calcium channel blockers (CCBs)

Calcium is needed by all muscle cells, including those of the heart and muscles and surrounding arteries, in order for the cells to contract. CCBs inhibit the movement of calcium into muscle cells. The reduction in calcium reduces the force of the heart's muscular pumping action (cardiac contraction) and thereby reduces blood pressure. These medications also relax the muscle cells surrounding the arteries to further reduce blood pressure. Three major types of calcium channel blockers are available. One type is the dihydropyridines, which do not slow the heart rate or cause other abnormal heart rates or rhythms (cardiac arrhythmias). They are commonly used for treating high blood pressure and are very effective in reducing blood pressure in African Americans.

Common side effects of CCBs

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

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

Examples of brand and generic names available for CCBs

The other two types of CCBs are referred to as the non-dihydropyridine agents. One type is verapamil (Calan, Covera, Isoptin, Verelan) and the other is diltiazem (Cardizem, Tiazac, Dilacor, and Diltia).

Diuretics

Diuretics are among the oldest known medications for treating high blood pressure. They work in the tiny tubes (tubules) of the kidneys to promote the removal of salt from the body. Water (fluid) also is removed along with the salt; however, the exact mechanism whereby diuretics lower blood pressure is not clearly known. The leading theory is that they directly cause the muscles surrounding blood vessels to relax. Diuretics may be used alone for high blood pressure. More frequently, however, low doses of diuretics are used in combination with other medications for high blood pressure to enhance the effect of the other medications.

Common side effects of diruetics

  • Dehydration
  • Low blood potassium
  • Low blood pressure
  • Fatigue
  • Increased blood glucose
  • Increased level of uric acid

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

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

Most commonly used diuretics to treat hypertension

The thiazide drugs are related to sulfa drugs. For those individuals who are allergic to sulfa drugs, ethacrynic acid, a loop diuretic, is a good option. Diuretics probably should not be used in pregnant women.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/15/2017

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