Hypertension treatment begins with lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, exercising, quit smoking, making dietary changes, and reducing stress. However, if these measures aren’t enough to control hypertension, doctors prescribe antihypertensives.
What are antihypertensives?Antihypertensives are a class of drugs that are used to treat hypertension (high blood pressure). The goal is clear, control hypertension and you can lower your risk of heart disease. Like the BP levels the number of medicines are big. At least a hundred antihypertensives from various drug classes are available, and many patients need some combination of these drugs to control their hypertension. It’s also important to understand that no single drug is superior to the others.
Various drug classes are
- Diuretics: Diuretics stimulate the kidneys to remove water and sodium from the body, thereby decreasing the total volume of blood that the heart has to pump. Hydrochlorothiazide is the most common.
- Beta-blockers: Beta-blockers block receptor cells that are involved in the release of epinephrine and norepinephrine, agents that stimulate the heartbeat. They lower blood pressure, slow and regulate the heart rate, and reduce the force of heart contractions. Metoprolol is the most common.
- Angiotensin Receptor Blockers (ARBs): These drugs prevent angiotensin from entering cells of the heart and blood vessels, dilating blood vessels and reducing the pressure the heart must work against. Telmisartan, olmesartan, valsartan, losartan are the most common.
- Calcium channel blockers: Calcium channel blockers prevent calcium from penetrating muscle tissue in the heart and blood vessels. Since muscles need calcium to contract, calcium channel blockers cause blood vessels to relax and dilate, thereby lowering blood pressure. Amlodipine is the most common.
- ACE inhibitors: These medications lower blood pressure by inhibiting the formation of substances angiotensin II and aldosterone in the kidneys that naturally constrict blood vessels and promote salt and water retention. Ramipril is the most common.
- Vasodilators: Unlike ACE inhibitors and ARBs, vasodilators directly relax the muscles in the walls of blood vessels. Relaxing these muscles in turn allows more blood to flow through the vessels, decreasing the resistance against which the heart must pump.
- Peripherally acting agents: Also known as adrenergic inhibitors or nervous system inhibitors, these medications alter nerve function so that blood vessel walls relax, widening the blood vessels and lowering blood pressure.