High Blood Pressure Medication (cont.)

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Calcium channel blockers (CCBs)

Calcium is needed by all muscle cells, including those of the heart and surrounding arteries, in order for the cells to contract. Calcium channel blockers (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. CCBs 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). Examples of these drugs include:

The other two types of calcium channel blockers 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.

The most commonly used diuretics to treat hypertension include:

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/21/2015


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