Potential side effects of high blood pressure medications

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High blood pressure medications have been linked to a lower risk for stroke and heart disease. Similar with other drugs, however, high blood pressure medications can cause side effects.

Hypotension is a potential effect of any antihypertensive drug. It is also important to note that the side effects distinctive to a specific drug can also arise.

Commonly used high blood pressure drugs


Diuretics or water pills work by stimulating the kidneys to release water and salt from the body to lower the blood pressure. The commonly used diuretics prescribed for controlling the blood pressure include:

In some cases, diuretics might also lead to the flare-ups of gout among those who have a history of the disease.
  • Furosemide
  • Hydrochlorothiazide
  • Chlorthalidone
  • Chlorothiazide

Since these drugs affect the water balance in the body, it results to fluctuations in the levels of sodium and potassium. Both low potassium and sodium levels are likely to occur.

Hypokalemia or low potassium occurs frequently and might lead to muscle cramping and weakness. Blood tests are performed regularly to monitor the electrolyte levels and overall function of the kidney.

In some cases, diuretics might also lead to the flare-ups of gout among those who have a history of the disease. The dosage is usually adjusted to lower the risk for future gout attacks.

Calcium channel blockers and beta blockers

Beta blockers and calcium channel blockers work directly on the heart and blood vessels to regulate the blood pressure.

The potential effects of beta blockers include fatigue and depressed mood. Remember that impotence is also possible. These effects might sometimes be counteracted by altering the dosage or time of the day the drug is taken.

The beta blockers can also slow down the heart rate as well as some calcium channel blockers specifically verapamil and diltiazem. Understandably, beta blockers should not be taken with diltiazem or verapamil since this can lead to fainting and dizziness.

Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors

Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEIs) and angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) prevent the hormone renin from elevating the blood pressure.

The ACEIs can cause a dry, persistent cough. The cough usually settles when the drug is not taken and does not arise with the use of ARBs.

If pregnant and using either ACEI or ARB, a doctor must be consulted right away since these drugs are toxic to the developing fetus.

Alpha agents

These are drugs that have an influence on the alpha receptors in the brain and blood vessels as well as help normalize the blood pressure. The commonly used include clonidine, terazosin and doxazosin.

Clonidine can trigger fatigue as well as a dry mouth. In addition, this drug should not be stopped abruptly since it can cause dangerous spikes in the blood pressure.

Terazosin and doxazosin can trigger palpitations, headaches and dizziness. These drugs should be started at a low dose to lower the potential for dizziness and fainting.

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