Discover the secrets of obtaining optimal health and nutrition!
High Blood Pressure is presently a major lifestyle disease that affects a significant proportion of the populaces in all countries worldwide and plagues almost one-third of Americans. Apart from following the recommendations of the physician to maintain a healthy lifestyle, you may also be required to take one or more categories of medications if you’re acutely hypertensive (1). This assertion leads to the inevitable question-Does the taking of high blood pressure medication cause side effects?
It does not need to be emphasized that no matter whatever medication you take for any ailment regardless of whether it is routine or grave, there is always a concomitant side-effect. So, it is a given that you’ll experience one or more side-effects from your hypertensive medications irrespective of the category. However, a majority of those taking HBP medicines have reported having side-effects that range from the minimal to mild (2).
More often than not the side effects may be uncomfortable or annoying but rarely do the same become grave or fatal. Once you get into the habit of taking medications as matter of course, you get used to typical undesirable effects of the same. On the other hand, the side-effects may go away or taper off after a certain period of time as you keep on swallowing the pills on a regular basis.
Each and every category of HBP medicine works in a singular manner and has its own peculiarities in treating the condition. For instance, taking diuretics might lead to your having more urination or Beta-blockers may cause the heart to beat more slowly and ARBs (Angiotensin Receptor Blockers) may cause dizziness.
You’d be better off maintaining a journal of the possible side-effects of your HBP medications and also keep your physician posted about the same for their better management (2). Sometimes, the GP or the medical practitioner may consider changing your dosage or even the class of medication. In the event or course of your imbibing the blood pressure medications, you should bear in mind certain factors.
The first of course is not to discontinue with the medication without consulting the doctor first. Some blood pressure medications may jeopardize your conjugal life. In such an eventuality, the doctor might consider altering the dosage or the category.
And if you’re a woman planning to conceive, you’ll naturally want to have medicines that’d be conducive not only for you but also for the wellbeing of the fetus. If you’re taking medications for other ailments like diabetes or heart disease, ingesting blood pressure medicines might have a bearing on your blood glucose level as well as on your heart (3)
Under normal circumstances, the doctor will prescribe only one class or category of medication initially and gauge the progress or development. It is only when your systolic and diastolic readings go beyond 160mmHg and 100mmHg respectively that he or she may start you on two distinct classes of drugs. Generally, physicians prescribe calcium channel blockers, angiotensin II receptor blockers, angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors, beta-blockers or diuretics in the normal course (4).
Medications that are rarely prescribed include Renin inhibitors, vasodilators, centrally acting drugs, and alpha-blockers. Taking hypertensive medicines are simply not an issue despite the fact that these may have side-effects. You become habituated with the side-effects over time and it is highly possible that the same may wither away in the long run. Some of the most prevalent undesirable side-effects associated with hypertensive or high blood pressure drugs include:-
Beta-Blockers: Beta-blockers aid in lowering blood pressure by blocking or inhibiting the trigger of specific hormonal and neuronal signals that keeps the heart from getting overworked. This causes your heart muscles to expand and contract less vigorously leading to blood being pumped out of the heart with lesser force (5).
Doctors normally prescribe metoprolol, nadolol and/or atenolol as beta-blockers. Side effects that arise from the ingestion of these medications are insomnia, erection issues, depression, numbness of the upper and lower limbs, and symptoms of asthma (6).
Calcium Channel Blockers: (CCBs)-CCBs help in keeping the blood vessels dilated and flexible by facilitating cells and tissues of arterial walls in the uptake of more calcium allowing for the smooth movement of blood. Thus CCBs by soothing the blood vessels bring down blood pressure (8). Clevidipine, Felodipine, Nisoldipine, Verapamil Hydrochloride, Nicardipine, and Isradipine are some of the most popular CCBs recommended by doctors. Intake of CCBs may cause swollen ankles, headaches, dizziness, constipation, and irregular tachycardia (7).
ACE II Receptor Blockers: ACE II Receptor Blockers as their terminology clearly indicate inhibit the action of a hormone known as angiotensin that boosts the narrowing of blood vessels. The ACE receptor blocker prevents the molecules of angiotensin from attaching themselves to blood vessel receptors thereby keeping blood vessels open and letting the smooth passage of blood through the arterial walls. Some of the best-known ACE II Receptor blockers stipulated by medical practitioners include Valsartan, Telmisartan, Irbesarten, Olmesartan, Losartin Potassium, Eprosartain Mesylate, Candesartan, and Azilsartan. The most widespread side-effect of ACE II receptor blocker is dizziness.
ACE Inhibitors: Angiotensin, a hormone is naturally produced in the body that narrows down the arterial blood vessels making the arteries to become more constricted which ultimately forces the heart to pump blood with a greater force. This leads to an abnormal increase in the blood pressure. An ACE Inhibitor as it name clearly suggests inhibits or restrain the production of angiotensin thus checking the constriction of blood vessels and keeping blood pressure normal. Some popular ACE Inhibitors prescribed by GPs include Ramipril, Trandolapril, Quinapril Hydrochloride, Perindopril, Lisinopril, Captopril, and Benazepril Hydrochloride. The most common side-effects of ACE Inhibitors include skin rashes and dry cough.
Alpha-Blockers: Alpha Blockers act by dilating and expanding the blood vessels that assist in free flow of the blood which ultimately results in the scaling down of high blood pressure. Doxazosin mesylate, prazosin hydrochloride, and terazosin hydrochloride are some alpha-blockers recommended by doctors and physicians. The side-effects related with the ingestion of alpha-blockers entail a feeling of giddiness, and lightheadedness especially in the morning when you get up from bed or when you try to stand up. Taking alpha-blockers can also cause tachycardia.
Alpha-Beta-Blockers: Alpha-Beta-Blockers work by weakening the nerve impulses that in turn slows down the heart rate. ABBs are injected into the bloodstream through intravenous injections but for congestive heart-failure (CHF) patients, doctors recommend medications in the form of pills and tablets. The side-effects of taking ABBs are the same as alpha-blockers (6).
Alpha-2 Receptor Agonist: -Alpha-2 receptor agonist medications have been in use for over 50 years now but the prevalence of ACE Inhibitors, Diuretics, and beta-blockers has led to a decrease in the use of the former. This class of medication works on the CNS (central nervous system) by inhibiting or slowing down the action of adrenaline that usually spikes up the blood pressure. Methyldopa is the most prescribed of all alpha-2 receptor agonist medications and its intake generally causes giddiness and drowsiness (9).
Peripheral Adrenergic Inhibitors: -Peripheral Adrenergic Inhibitors are used as 2nd line of blood pressure medications particularly when the primary hypertensive medicines prove ineffective. Peripheral Adrenergic Inhibitors are seldom prescribed and only recommended as a last resort as the side-effects of these medications are numerous as well as cause complications. PAIs hold back and/or slow down the action of neurotransmitters that send messages or signals that result in the narrowing down of blood vessels.
Reserpine, Guanadrel, and Guanethidine Monosulfate are some of the highly recommended Peripheral Adrenergic Inhibitors. Side-effects related to intake of these medications involve stuffy nose, heartburns, erectile dysfunctional problem, diarrhea, and lightheadedness (9).
Renin Inhibitors: Renin Inhibitors are advanced blood pressure medications that can be either used as standalone drugs or may be combined with other medicines. This kind of hypertensive drug nullifying the action of chemicals that causes the blood vessels to become taut and rigid. Side effects linked with Renin Inhibitors are rashes and inflammations on the skin, heartburns, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and dry cough (10).
Vasodilators: Vasodilators, as the terming indicates, work on the muscles of the arterial walls causing them to dilate and expand which results in a smoother flow of blood. Vasodilators like Minoxidil and Hydralazine are usually prescribed along with other blood pressure medicines to patients suffering from severe or acute hypertension. Side-effects connected with vasodilators are joint pains and aches, irregular palpitations, edema, headaches, and unwarranted hair growth (11).
It doesn’t need to be emphasized that all medications have some side-effects or the other and in that respect, hypertensive medicines are not an exception. That in essence implies that regardless of the type of medicine you take for controlling your high blood pressure, you can take it for granted that there’ll be a few side-effects that you’ll have to get used to. However, there are many individuals, both men and women who don’t experience any issues from their intake of HBP medications.
Unfortunately, there’s no tried-and-tested method for you to find out beforehand whether you’ll be affected by side effects from your medication intake. The only way to determine whether you’re susceptible to side-effects is to start taking the prescribed medicines. Side-effects will become palpable or noticeable in the gradual course after you’ve had multiple doses of the medicine(s). Side-effects might start to surface if and when the dosage is increased.
Quite interestingly, the same medication may trigger different side-effect(s) in two individuals. For instance, vasodilators in some individuals may cause severe headaches while in others this medication can cause acute pain in the bodily joints. Anyway, the fact that you’re having unbearable side-effects with one medication does not necessarily mean you’ll have issues with all categories of drugs. You’ll be better off consulting a doctor if you’re experiencing problems adjusting to a particular medication, specifically because of its unbearable side-effects. Your physician might even think of changing the drug category and prescribe a new class or he may alter the dosage.
More often you might feel uneasy or uncomfortable after taking a blood pressure medication that you may misinterpret as a side-effect. For instance, you might feel numb in your legs or hands or have difficulty in getting up from a sitting position or climbing the stairs. These undesirable effects could be because of a drug-interaction as you might be taking medicines for diabetes or asthma.
While you pay a visit to the doctor, you should tell him or her any medication that you might be already taking for an ailment or disorder you may be beset with. Don’t forget to mention even homemade remedy or herbal medicines you might be on safe in the belief that these formulations are sterile or don’t have any side-effects. You should bear in mind that medications for different ailments or diseases are highly predisposed to reacting with each other.
These days, almost all medications are supplied with user manuals or information leaflets where the possible side-effects of taking that medication are listed. So, if you’ve any of the side-effects mentioned in the list, you’ll be able to make out whether the same is happening because of your medicinal intake (12).
You might become panicky and anxious if your blood pressure medications cause you too many side-effects. This anxiousness on your part may discourage you from continuing with taking the medicine. However, you should be in the know that suddenly discontinuing medicines without informing the doctor might have adverse effects on your health. At the least, taking such a step might aggravate your blood pressure inordinately and you might be at your wits’ end in bringing the same down and monitoring it later on.
If you’re having issues with the intake of a particular medication, then you should inform your healthcare expert or doctor without delay. He or she will either decrease the dosage or prescribe another medication along with it. Alternatively, the doctor may also reconsider changing the category of the medication. Most side-effects you experience will taper off in the long run as your system gets adjusted with the medications in a gradual manner (12).
If your blood pressure is in the pre-hypertensive stage, your doctor will certify you as healthy thereby signifying that you may not need to take any medication at all. Nevertheless, if you’re suffering from heart disease or diabetes or kidney disease along with pre-hypertension, then you might be required to take drugs in order to keep your blood pressure within manageable limits. At the same time, you may also be advised to bring about lifestyle changes to maintain a normal blood pressure as well as eliminate and/or minimize the requirement to go for medications (13).
If your blood pressure is in the range of 140/90mmHg-159/99mmHg then you’re in the 1st stage of HBP. For regulating your acute hypertension, you’re most likely to be prescribed diuretics, Renin Inhibitors, CCBs, beta-blockers, angiotensin II receptor blockers, and ACE Inhibitors.
When your blood pressure is extremely high (beyond 160/100mmHg), you’ve stage 2 HBP, you’ll be prescribed thiazide diuretic that’ll help to flush out excessive sodium built-up and fluid from your system.
Apart from this diuretic, the GP may also start you on an extra drug which could be a Renin Inhibitor, CCB, beta-blocker, angiotension II receptor blocker or an ACE Inhibitor (14).
In the initial phase when you start taking medications, your physician may recommend you to try more than one medication or dosage just to figure out or get an idea of the drug that’d be optimal for you. He or she may also advise you to check your blood pressure in the comfort of your home. The blood pressure readings will help him or her to decide if the treatment process or procedure is having a positive effect.
Depending on how you respond to the therapy, the medical practitioner will decide on the future course of treatment. He or she may decrease or increase the dosage of the existing medicines or recommend a new drug. The idea is to investigate what’s actually causing you such high blood pressure. If you in close co-operation with your doctor can actually pinpoint the real cause, you might be able to achieve your ultimate goal which is to bring down your abnormally high level of hypertension.
Almost all patients or individuals with intensely high blood pressure will be effectively able to monitor and bring down their HBP by taking suitable medications and bringing about lifestyle changes like giving up smoking and/or abstaining from alcohol and so on and so forth.