There are dozens of different medications used to treat high blood pressure. Any questions about your high blood pressure and the medications used in its treatment need to be discussed with you doctor.
When I decide on which one to use I first review my patient’s full medical history. Certain medications are better suited for specific medical conditions. For example, a patient with diabetes and high blood pressure should take an ACE inhibitor as the first choice of medication. ACE inhibitors not only reduce blood pressure but also protect the kidneys and the heart in those with diabetes. A patient with high blood pressure and coronary artery disease should instead be first started on a Beta Blocker which can prevent angina, or chest pain from blocked blood vessels in the heart. Combinations of several different blood pressure medications are often necessary.
In addition to medical conditions I take into account my patients’ allergies, interactions with medications already being taken, and cost of the pills when choosing a specific pill.
Once I choose a medication the appropriate dose needs to be selected. In many people, starting at the lowest dose is appropriate, slowly increasing the dose until the blood pressure is controlled. In others, with severely elevated blood pressure, the lowest dose may not be enough. These patients are often started on an intermediate or even high dose. Regardless of the selection, close follow up with a doctor is critical to ensure that the medication is not causing any harm and so that the dose can be adjusted.
I am often asked about side effects of blood pressure medication. These indeed are quite important. Each and every medication has multiple side effects. The most common side effect of blood pressure medication is the lowering of blood pressure too much. Low blood pressure can be associated with dizziness, lightheadedness, headache, change in vision, fatigue, and loss of consciousness. If any of these occur contact your doctor immediately. Other side effects can also occur and can involve any part of the body. Make sure to tell your doctor about anything you are feeling when taking the pills. Your doctor will balance the benefits of taking the pills with the side effects. If the benefit is significantly greater than the risk, the medicine is appropriate.
Treatment of high blood pressure with medication usually does not make patients feel better right away. Instead, it decreases the strain on the heart, brain, and other body organs over months to years. Most importantly, decreasing blood pressure prevents some of the most serious causes of illness and dying. This includes heart attack, stroke, and kidney failure.
Published On: October 03, 2006