Any medication can cause side effects, and high blood pressure (HBP) medications are no exception. However, many people do not have side effects from taking hypertension drugs, and often the side effects are mild. Still, it’s important to stay informed and work closely with your doctor to manage any side effects you may have. There’s no reason to “suffer in silence.” Today there are more medication options than ever for managing high blood pressure (hypertension).
This article lists the side effects that may be caused by each type of high blood pressure drug. First, here are four general warnings.
As an informed patient, read about the type of medication you are taking and its possible side effects. You can find a full list on your medication insert. To get you started, here is an overview of the most common side effects of high blood pressure medications.
These high blood pressure medications flush extra water and sodium (salt) from your body. Diuretics may cause these side effects:
Beta-blockers make your heart beat less forcefully and more slowly. These medications may cause side effects such as:
These high blood pressure medications block formation of a hormone that causes blood vessels to narrow, so vessels relax. ACE inhibitors may cause these side effects:
These high blood pressure medications shield blood vessels from a hormone that causes blood vessels to narrow. This allows blood vessels to stay open. One of the more common side effects of ARBs is dizziness.
These high blood pressure medications keep calcium from entering heart muscle and blood vessel cells. Blood vessels can then relax. CCBs may cause these side effects:
Alpha-blockers reduce nerve impulses to blood vessels, allowing blood to flow more easily. These medications may cause:
This high blood pressure medication decreases activity in the adrenaline-producing part of the nervous system. It may cause drowsiness or dizziness.
These high blood pressure medications reduce nerve impulses and also slow the heartbeat. Patients with severe high blood pressure often receive them by intravenous (IV) injection. But the doctor may also prescribe these medications for people who have congestive heart failure. Alpha-beta blockers may cause a drop in blood pressure when you stand up suddenly or first get up in the morning. This can cause dizziness, lightheadedness, or weakness.
These high blood pressure medications control nerve impulses, relaxing blood vessels.
Central agonists may cause:
This type of medication blocks neurotransmitters in the brain, so the message to constrict doesn’t reach smooth muscles. Used less often than other high blood pressure medications, these drugs can cause:
If nightmares or insomnia persist, talk with your doctor about another HBP medication option.
Vasodilators relax muscles in vessel walls, opening blood vessels and allowing blood to flow better. These medications may cause:
This newer class of high blood pressure medication works by decreasing chemicals that tighten blood vessels. This medication may be used alone or in combination with another medication. Side effects may include:
Partner with your doctor. Ask if there are any take steps you can take to lessen medication side effects. For example, to lessen the effects of low blood pressure, it may help to avoid standing for a long time in the sun. In some cases, side effects such as fatigue or diarrhea may subside with time. In other cases, your doctor may change the dosage or prescribe another high blood pressure medication. A combination of medications sometimes works better than one medication alone by not only improving high blood pressure control but also by reducing side effects.
Also, when you first start a new high blood pressure medicine, be aware of rare allergic reactions. Call 119 right away if you develop hives, wheezing, vomiting, light-headedness, or swelling in your throat or face.