High Blood Pressure Drugs at a Glance

A quick rundown of available drugs used to lower your blood pressure.

High Blood Pressure Drugs at a Glance

Generic drugBrand nameDose
Thiazide diuretics & thiazide diuretics in combination with ACE inhibitors & angiotensin II receptor blockers
ChlorthalidoneHygroton12.5 to 50 mg/once per day
IndapamideNatrilix/Natrilix SR1.25 to 5 mg/once per day
Hydrochlorothiazide & ACE inhibitorsMonoplus10/12.5 mg/once a day
Monoplus20/12.5 mg/once a day
Accuretic20/12.5 mg/once a day
Hydrochlorothiazide & angiotensin II receptor blockersAtacand plus16/12.5 mg/once a day
Avapro HCT150/12.5 mg/once a day
Avapro HCT300/12.5 mg/once a day
Karvezide150/12.5 mg/once a day
Karvezide300/12.5 mg/once a day
Micardis plus40/12.5 mg/once a day
Teveten plus600/12.5 mg/once a day
Loop diuretics
FrusemideLasix20 to 480 mg/2 to 3 times a day
Potassium-sparing diuretics
Amiloride hydrochlorideMidamor5 to 10 mg/once a day
SpironolactoneAldactone25 to 100 mg/once a day

Note: Talk with your doctor first before making any changes in dosage or switching prescriptions.

Thiazide diuretics & thiazide diuretics in combination with ACE inhibitors & angiotensin II receptor blockers; loop diuretics; potassium-sparing diuretics

Advantages: Thiazide diuretics and thiazide diuretics in combination with ACE inhibitors and angiotensin II receptor blockers have been proven effective and safe for lowering blood pressure; they are also relatively inexpensive. Therefore, they are often the first drug of choice for treating hypertension. Loop diuretics are sometimes recommended for people with congestive heart failure or other conditions that cause the body to retain fluid.

Disadvantages: Diuretics can cause frequent urination, fatigue, dizziness on standing, impotence, increased sensitivity to sunlight, gout, dehydration, and small increases in blood sugar and cholesterol. High doses of thiazide diuretics (50 to 100 mg per day) may increase the risk for heart attacks. Thiazide and loop diuretics can cause the body to lose too much potassium. Potassium-sparing diuretics raise potassium levels, which can be dangerous for people with kidney disease. Caution should be taken when using potassium-sparing diuretics with ACE inhibitors, which also raise potassium levels.

Generic drugBrand nameDose
Beta blockers
AtenololTenormin25 to 100 mg/1 to 2 times a day
CarvedilolDilatrend2.5 to 50 mg/once a day
LabetalolTrandate100 to 200 mg/2 times a day
Metoprolol tartrateLopressor/Betaloc50 to 100 mg/2 times a day
PindololVisken5 to 15 mg/2 times a day
PropranololInderal40 to 80mg/2 times a day
ACE inhibitors
CaptoprilCapoten25 to 50 mg/3 times a day
Enalapril maleateRenitec5 to 40 mg/1 to 2 times a day
Fosinopril sodiumMonopril10 to 40 mg/once a day
LisinoprilPrinivil/Zestril5 to 40 mg/once a day
Perindopril erbumineCoversyl2 to 16 mg/once a day or divided doses
Quinapril hydrochlorideAccupril5 to 20 mg/1 to 2 times a day
RamiprilRamace/Tritace1.25 to 10 mg/1 to 2 times a day
TrandolaprilGopten1 to 4 mg/once a day

Beta blockers

Advantages: Along with diuretics, these drugs are frequently chosen as the first line of treatment for high blood pressure. They have characteristics that also make them helpful for people with angina or an arrhythmia or who have had a prior heart attack.

Disadvantages: Fatigue is the most common side effect of these drugs, so active people may want to avoid them. They may be used in special situations in people with congestive heart failure, but should not be used in patients with severe asthma. People with diabetes should be cautious about using these drugs, which can mask drops in bloodsugar levels.

ACE inhibitors

Advantages: These drugs cause few side effects. They are good for active people because they don’t produce fatigue. The drugs also may slow kidney damage in people with diabetes. Unlike diuretics and beta blockers, ACE inhibitors don’t raise blood cholesterol, which makes them a good choice for people with high cholesterol. Ramipril has been shown to lower the risk for heart attack, stroke and diabetes.

Disadvantages: Many people using these drugs develop a dry cough. A few develop a skin rash, swelling in the mouth or a lessening of their ability to taste. People with severe kidney disease must use these drugs with caution. Pregnant women should avoid these drugs as should other women of child-bearing years, unless they are using effective contraception.

Generic drugBrand nameDose
Angiotensin II receptor blockers
CandesartanAtacand4 to 32 mg/once a day
IrbesartanAvapro/Karvea150 to 300 mg/once a day
Lorsartan potassiumCozaar25 to 100 mg/1 to 2 times a day
EprosartanTeveten400 to 600 mg/once a day
TelmisartanMicardis40 to 80 mg/once a day
Calcium channel blockers (long-acting)
Amlodipine besylateNorvasc2.5 to 10 mg/once a day
DiltiazemCardizem CD180 to 360 mg/once a day
Vasocardol CD180 to 240 mg/once a day
FelodipinePlendil2.5 to 20 mg/once a day
NifedipineAdalat10 to 20 mg/2 times a day
Adalat oros20 to 60 mg/once a day
Verapamil hydrochlorideIsoptin SR80 to 400 mg/once a day

Note: Talk with your doctor first before making any changes in dosage or switching prescriptions.

Angiotensin II receptor blockers

Advantages: These drugs have few side effects. They work similarly to ACE inhibitors, but don’t produce a cough and are usually taken only once a day. Lorsartan has been shown to improve high blood pressure-related male impotence.

Disadvantages: Although uncommon, side effects can include dizziness and fatigue. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid these drugs. So should women in their child-bearing years, unless they are using effective contraception.

Calcium channel blockers (long-acting)

Advantages: Side effects of these drugs tend to be mild. Because they do not produce fatigue, they are sometimes recommended for active people. These drugs have proven especially effective in older people.

Disadvantages: Possible side effects include constipation, a rapid heartbeat, dizziness, nausea, and swelling, especially of the feet, lower legs and gums. These drugs should be used cautiously by people with heart arrhythmia or liver disease. Recent studies suggest that these drugs may increase the risk for heart attack. Other studies suggest these drugs may make men temporarily infertile.

Generic drugBrand nameDose
Alpha blockers
Labetalol hydrochlorideTrandate100 to 200 mg/2 times a day
Prazosin hydrochlorideMinipress3 to 20 mg/daily in divided doses
Central alpha agonists
Clonidine hydrochlorideCatapres0.1 to 0.2 mg/2 to 3 times a day
MethyldopaAldomet250 to 1500 mg/per day in divided doses
Blood vessel dilators
Hydralazine hydrochlorideApresoline50 to 150 mg/per day in divided doses
MinoxidilLoniten5 to 100 mg/once a day

Alpha blockers

Advantages: These drugs are helpful for people with high cholesterol because they lower triglycerides and LDL cholesterol. They can also help reduce the symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) in older men.

Disadvantages: People sometimes become dizzy or even faint after taking these drugs, especially after the first dose. The effectiveness of the drugs can diminish over time.

Central alpha agonists

Advantages: These drugs can also help ease symptoms associated with migraine headaches, panic attacks, and drug or alcohol withdrawal. Methyldopa is considered safe for use by pregnant women. Catapres is available as a skin patch that is reapplied only once a week.

Disadvantages: Severe dizziness and/or drowsiness may occur. Other possible side effects include nausea, rapid heartbeat, headache, dry mouth, constipation, fatigue, sleep problems, depression, anxiety and impotence.

Blood vessel dilators

Advantages: These potent drugs can be very effective in cases of severe hyper-tension. Side effects can be minimised by combining these drugs with a beta blocker and a diuretic. Minoxidil is helpful when severe hypertension is accompanied by kidney problems.

Disadvantages: These drugs can speed up the heart and cause the body to retain water, which is why they are usually prescribed with other anti-hypertensives. Other possible side effects include dizziness, headache, loss of appetite, gastrointestinal problems, eye tearing, stuffy nose, skin rash and breast tenderness. Minoxidil may cause body hair to grow thicker or darker. High doses of hydralazine may increase the risk for developing lupus.

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