High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a very common condition that can have dangerous health consequences. Fortunately, many medications options are available to:
- Lower blood pressure numbers to a healthy range, and
- Prevent serious heart disease, stroke and kidney disease.
But among these choices, how do you know which one is the best blood pressure medication for you? This series of blogs will hopefully help provide some general guidance, beginning with an overview of the four main types of blood pressure medication.
What happens when you have high blood pressure?
Let’s get started by discussing what actually happens in your body when you have high blood pressure. First, the overall volume of liquid in your blood vessels makes a key difference: more liquid equals greater pressure. Second, more contractions by your cardiac muscles means increased pressure in your cardiovascular system. And the two potent signals that causes your cardiac muscle cells to contract are Calcium and Angiotensin II.
The four classes of blood pressure medication
There are four classes of blood pressure lowering medications available to you and recommended in the latest treatment guidelines for your physicians, and they help lower your blood pressure in several different ways.
Diuretics makes you expel more water and salt in your urine. This has the effect of getting rid of the extra fluid in your body, decreasing the overall level of liquid in your blood vessels, which means less pressure for your arteries and lowered blood pressure.
Examples of diuretics include Aprinox, Diuril, Inspra, Lasilix, Microzide, Natrilix, Triflumen, Zaroxolyn
2. Calcium Channel Blocker (CCB)
Calcium Channel Blockers stop calcium from going into your cardiac muscle cells. Without calcium, these cells remain quiet, and can’t contract to raise blood pressure.
Examples of CCB medications include Amlodipine, Diltiazem, Felodipine, Israodipine, Verapamil
3. Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitor (ACEI)
Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitors is just what it sounds like, it inhibits or stops Angiotensin II from being produced in your body. Without Angiotensin II’s stimulus, your cardiac muscle cells won’t contract and won’t raise blood pressure.
Examples of ACEIs include Enalapril, Captopril, Benazepril, LIsinopril, Quinapril, Trandolapril
4. Angiotensin Receptor Blocker (ARB)
Angiotensin Receptor Blockers are similar to the ACEIs described above: ARB also inhibit Angiotensin II, but instead of stopping its production, these blockers don’t allow cells to react this hormone. This also remove the stimulus on muscle cells to contract, thereby decreasing blood pressure.
Examples of ARBs include Candesartan, Eprosartan, Losartan, Valsartan
So which of these classes are best for managing my high blood pressure?
These medications together with lifestyle changes can very effectively manage your blood pressure levels. Your doctor will select the safest and most effective blood pressure medication for you by considering several different factors, including visible factors like age and presence of other illnesses, but also considering invisible factors such as how your body processes and responds to different types of medications. A PillCheckTM drug response test can help you and your doctor predict exactly how your body will respond to high blood pressure medications, so that your treatment is personalized and optimized!
These four types of medications produce similar health benefits, but with some important distinctions and may not work the same in everyone. To find out how these differences affect you, I will be discussing each of these classes of high blood pressure medication in depth in the coming weeks. So please subscribe to our newsletter, or follow us on Facebook and Twitter for my next update! And as always, if you’ve enjoyed reading this post, please share it with your friends and family!