Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Problems With Blood Pressure Medicine

Blood pressure, a measurement of how hard blood pushes against artery walls, is recorded in two numbers. The first number, systolic pressure, measures peak pressure when the heart is contracting. The second number, diastolic pressure, measures peak pressure when the heart is relaxing. Normal blood pressure is considered 120/80 or lower, while prehypertension is regarded as120/80 to139/89.

Health Risks/Lifestyle Changes

Health risks associated with high blood pressure include heart disease or attack, kidney failure, and risk of stroke. Very often, an individual can lower his pressure through a change in lifestyle, including not smoking, losing weight, exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet, limiting sodium, alcohol, and caffeine, or practicing relaxation techniques. Even if medications are prescribed, a doctor will likely recommend that a patient improve her lifestyle.


The purpose of blood pressure medication, known as antihypertensive drugs, is to reduce the pressure to normal levels. As with all medications, there is a possibility that an individual will encounter problems taking the drugs. These may include dizziness when standing up after lying down or sitting, lower levels of potassium, sleeplessness, drowsiness, dry mouth, headaches, bloating, constipation and depression. Erectile dysfunction has also been reported in some cases.

Stage 1

Stage 1 high blood pressure is in the range of 140/90 to 159/99. Diuretics, known as water pills, may be prescribed to help lower the pressure. Considered the least likely to cause side effects, diuretics are dehydrators; many vital minerals may be flushed from the body. Other problems may include gout, indigestion, headaches and uremia.

Stage 2

Stage 2 high blood pressure is in the range of 160/100 or higher. Doctors usually recommend at least two medications to bring the pressure down. Diuretics may be prescribed along with a beta blocker or calcium channel blocker. Beta blockers are cardiac drugs. Problems may include congestive heart failure, heart attack or stroke. Calcium channel blockers suppress muscle contraction which dilates arteries and reduces resistance to blood flow. In August 2000, Dr. Curt Furberg, professor of Public Health Sciences at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine, reported that these drugs have been known to cause heart attacks and heart failure.

Drug Interaction

If two or more drugs are taken at the same time, each drug may not work as designed, and the risk of side effects from each drug increases. It is important that a doctor be informed of all over-the-counter and prescription drugs an individual may be taking. It is also necessary to know if any foods or drinks are to be avoided when taking blood pressure medication.

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