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High blood pressure medicines

Hypertension - medicines

Information

Treating high blood pressure will help prevent problems such as heart disease, stroke, loss of eyesight, chronic kidney disease, and other blood vessel diseases.

You may need to take medicines to lower your blood pressure if lifestyle changes are not enough to bring your blood pressure to the target level.

WHEN ARE MEDICINES FOR HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE USED

Most of the time, if your blood pressure is high, your health care provider will recommend that you try lifestyle changes to control your blood pressure first. Your provider will also recommend that you check your BP two or more additional times.

If your blood pressure is 120/80 to 129/80 mm Hg, you have elevated blood pressure.

If your blood pressure is equal to or higher than 130/80 but lower than 140/90 mm Hg, you have Stage 1 high blood pressure. When thinking about the best treatment, you and your provider must consider:

If your blood pressure is equal to or higher than 140/90 mm Hg, you have Stage 2 high blood pressure. Your provider will most likely recommend that you take medicines and recommend lifestyle changes.

Before making a final diagnosis of either elevated blood pressure or high blood pressure, your provider should ask you to have your blood pressure measured at home, at your pharmacy, or somewhere else besides their office or a hospital.

If you have a higher risk for heart disease, diabetes, heart problems, or a history of a stroke, medicines may be recommended at a lower blood pressure reading. The most commonly used blood pressure targets for people with these medical problems are below 130/80.

MEDICINES FOR HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE

Most of the time, only a single drug will be recommended at first. Two drugs may be recommended if you have stage 2 high blood pressure.

Several types of medicine are used to treat high blood pressure. Your provider will recommend which type of medicine is right for you. You may need to take more than one type.

Each type of blood pressure medicine listed below comes in different brand and generic names.

One or more of these blood pressure medicines are often used to treat high blood pressure:

Blood pressure medicines that are not used as often include:

SIDE EFFECTS OF BLOOD PRESSURE MEDICINES

Most blood pressure medicines are easy to take, but all medicines have side effects. Most of these are mild and may go away over time.

Some common side effects of high blood pressure medicines include:

Tell your provider as soon as possible if you have side effects or the side effects are causing you problems. Most of the time, making changes to the dose of medicine or when you take it can help reduce side effects.

Never change the dose or stop taking a medicine on your own. Always talk to your provider first.

OTHER TIPS

Taking more than one medicine may change how your body absorbs or uses a drug. Vitamins or supplements, different foods, or alcohol may also change how a drug acts in your body.

Always ask your provider whether you need to avoid any foods, drinks, vitamins or supplements, or any other medicines while you are taking blood pressure medicine.

References

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. High blood pressure. www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/index.htm. Reviewed October 22, 2020. Accessed July 22, 2021.

Victor RG. Arterial hypertension. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 70.

Victor RG, Libby P. Systemic hypertension: management. In: Zipes DP, Libby P, Bonow RO, Mann DL, Tomaselli GF, Braunwald E, eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 46.

Whelton PK, Carey RM, Aronow WS, et al. 2017 ACC/AHA/AAPA/ABC/ACPM/AGS/APhA/ASH/ASPC/NMA/PCNA guideline for the prevention, detection, evaluation, and management of high blood pressure in adults: a report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Clinical Practice Guidelines. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2018;71(19):e127-e248. PMID: 29146535 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29146535/.

Williams B, Borkum M. Pharmacologic treatment of hypertension. In: Feehally J, Floege J, Tonelli M, Johnson RJ, eds. Comprehensive Clinical Nephrology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 36.

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Review Date: 4/17/2021  

Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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