Other drugs used to treat high blood pressure include angiotensin-receptor blockers, vasodilators, and alpha blockers.
Drugs known as angiotensin-receptor blockers (ARBs) block the effects of angiotensin, a hormone that would otherwise cause arteries to constrict. They are similar to ACE inhibitors in their action and ability to both lower blood pressure and protect the kidneys, but may have fewer or less severe side effects, including cough. They may even improve sexual function in men.
Vasodilators, which widen blood vessels, are often used in combination with a diuretic or a beta blocker. They are almost never used by themselves. Representative vasodilators include hydralazine (Apresoline), clonidine (Catapres -- available in tablets or as a skin patch), and minoxidil (Loniten). Some of these drugs should be used with caution, or not at all in people with angina, heart failure, or those who have had a recent heart attack.
Alpha blockers, such as doxazosin (Cardura) and prazosin (Minipress), widen blood vessels, thereby reducing blood pressure. However, a major study on doxazosin was stopped when it was associated with a higher risk of chest pain, stroke, and congestive heart failure compared with a diuretic. At this time, until more is known, they are only recommended for reducing blood pressure if no other agents are effective.
Review Date: June 3, 2003
Reviewed By: Jacqueline A. Hart, M.D., Department of Internal Medicine,
Newton-Wellesley Hospital, Harvard University and Senior Medical Editor,
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. Copyright 2004 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.