Blood Pressure Drugs
The following page is an explanation of some of the different types of medications that may have been prescribed to you by your doctor or perhaps a specialist after admission to hospital. You may have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, have high cholesterol or have recently had a heart attack or angina (chest pain).
Conventional Blood Pressure Treatment
The conventional treatment of high blood pressure is medication. We are certainly not against pharmaceutical medications when it comes to blood pressure, but it is good to know that there are alternatives.
In some instances it may be necessary to take a drug to lower your blood pressure, but in the majority of cases this will not be necessary. Most instances of high blood pressure can improve significantly with a change in diet and lifestyle, particularly with weight loss. We believe in informed consent, and ultimately it is your choice to decide which option you want, and you have three basic choices:
- Straight conventional drug therapy – you take the pills and your blood pressure is controlled. Many patients pay little attention to diet and lifestyle unfortunately as their blood pressure is adequately managed with drugs. It is easy to be complacent.
- Natural medicine, diet and lifestyle – this can be a bit a little risky for some people with very high blood pressure, but totally acceptable for those with mild to moderate hypertension, particularly if they work on weight loss, exercise, relaxation and eating a healthy diet..
- A combination of Western medicine and natural medicine – this seems to be the preferred approach with most people and is perfectly acceptable. Most people in this category will be able to reduce and eventually discontinue their drugs once their blood pressure drops over time.
Here is a basic rundown on some of the main types of blood pressure drugs and how they work. Often, two or more drugs work better than one, and your doctor may have you on one, two or even three. There are three main classes of BP drugs – ACE inhibitors, Beta blockers and Calcium channel blockers. Diuretics are added sometimes.
- ACE Inhibitors – Angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors prevent the formation of a hormone called angiotensin II, made by the kidney, which normally causes blood vessels to narrow. These tablets are used to lower blood pressure, assist your heart to pump better and if you have had a heart attack previously they may be prescribed to prevent long-term damage to your heart muscle. Brands include Catopril (Capoten), Enalapril (Renitec or Amprace), Lisinopril (Zestril or Prinivil) or Peridopril (Coversyl). Are you taking an ACE Inhibitor and have a persistent cough? My mother-in-law started coughing not long after taking Inhibace ®. I alerted her, and her doctor placed her into a Beta Blocker instead. Your GP may not be aware if you take this class of drug and develop a cough, let your doctor know get it checked out. This class of anti-hypertensive may cause coughs in up to 7% to 15% of persons using them.
- Beta blockers – blocks the effect of adrenalin. Beta-blockers reduce nerve impulses to the heart and blood vessels. This makes the heart beat slower and with less force. Blood pressure drops and the heart works less hard. By lowering your blood pressure this way and the rate at which your heart pumps, you decrease the heart’s need for oxygen. Some brands here include Atenolol (Tenormin, Noten or Tenol) or Metoprolol (Betaloc, Lopressor or Minax).
- Calcium channel blockers – keep calcium from entering the muscle cells of the heart and blood vessels. This causes the blood vessels to relax and pressure goes down. These tablets help prevent angina by decreasing the work of your heart, and by slowing the rate you decrease the heart’s need for oxygen. Some brands include Diltiazem (Cardizem or Dilzem) or Amlodipine (Norvasc) or Varapamil (Isoptin).
- Diuretics – “fluid pills” – these decrease your body’s blood volume, by reducing the water content. Diuretics are sometimes called “water pills” because they work in the kidney and flush excess water and sodium from the body. This in turn drops the peripheral resistance and reduces your elevated BP. You will make frequent trips to the toilet though! My concern here is that you can become very depleted in many different minerals – with consequent poor health down the track but in certain cases of congestive heart failure diuretic drugs are a MUST. See your GP if in doubt.
Prescription drugs cause a disease called iatrogenic disease
I can’t think of a single prescription drug used for cardiovascular disease that should be used “indefinitely”, unless all other options have been exhausted (very rare). The bottom line is that taking a long-term medication which alters any of your natural body functions is dangerous. When a doctor prescribes you a pharmaceutical drug with no plan of taking you off, he or she is simply allowing the drug time to express all its toxic side effects – in your body. Both patients and doctors must realise that prescription pharmaceutical drugs all cause disease.