High Blood Pressure Treatment (cont.)

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Treatment with combinations of drugs for high blood pressure

The use of combination drug therapy for hypertension is common. At times, using smaller amounts of one or more drugs in combination can minimize side effects while maximizing the anti-hypertensive effect. For example, diuretics, which also can be used alone, are more often used in a low dose in combination with another class of antihypertensive medications. This way, the diuretic has fewer side effects while improving the blood pressure-lowering effect of the other drug. Diuretics also are added to other antihypertensive medications when a patient with hypertension has fluid retention and swelling (edema).

ACE inhibitors or ARBs may be useful in combination with most other antihypertensive medications. The effects of these drugs are additive, meaning that a combination of drugs from each category is more effective than either drug alone in treating patients with cardiomyopathies and proteinuria. Another useful combination is that of a beta blocker with an alpha blocker in patients with high blood pressure and enlargement of the prostate gland in order to treat both conditions simultaneously. Caution is necessary when combining two drugs that both lower the heart rate. For example, patients receiving a combination of a beta blocker to a non-dihydropyridine calcium channel blocker (for example, diltiazem [Cardizem, Dilacor, Tiazac] or verapamil [Calan, Verelan, Isoptin, Covera-HS]) need to be monitored carefully to avoid an excessively slow heart rate (bradycardia). Combining alpha and beta blockers such as carvedilol (Coreg) and labetalol (Normodyne, Trandate) is useful for cardiomyopathies and for hypertension patients.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/11/2012

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