Blood pressure is typically recorded as two numbers, written as a ratio. The top number is the “systolic” reading. It measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats or is contracting. This number is the higher of the two numbers. The bottom number is the “diastolic” reading. It measures the pressure in the arteries between heartbeats when the muscle is resting. A blood pressure level of 140/90 mmHg or higher is considered high. Adopting healthy lifestyle habits is an effective first step in both preventing and controlling high blood pressure. If lifestyle changes alone are not effective in keeping your pressure controlled, it may be necessary to add blood pressure medications
Types of Blood Pressure Medications
Here’s a rundown on the main types of drugs and how they work. Often, two or more drugs work better than one.
|Diuretics-“water pills” work in the kidney and flush excess water and sodium from body.|
|Beta-blockers- Reduce nerve impulses to the heart/blood vessels. This makes the heart beat slower and with less force. This drops blood pressure and the heart works less.|
|ACE inhibitors-prevent the formation of a hormone called angiotensin II, which normally causes blood vessels to narrow. The ACE inhibitors cause the vessels to relax and blood pressure goes down.|
|Angiotensin antagonists- shield blood vessels from angiotensin II. As a result, the vessel widens and blood pressure decreases.|
|Calcium channel blockers (CCBs) - keep calcium from entering the muscle cells of the heart/blood vessels. This will help blood vessels relax and the pressure will go down.|
|Alpha-blockers- reduce nerve impulses to blood vessels, blood can pass thru more easily and the blood pressure will decrease.|
|Vasodilators- open blood vessels by relaxing the muscle in the vessel walls so the blood pressure will go down.|
Follow your health care provider’s recommendations to modify, treat, or control possible causes of high blood pressure. As always, if you have any questions about your medications your Klein’s Pharmacist is ready to help!