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High Blood Pressure (cont.)

How to Lower High Blood Pressure

In about half of people with high blood pressure, limiting sodium intake by eliminating table salt, cooking salt, and salty and processed foods can reduce blood pressure by 5 mm Hg. Losing weight and participating in regular physical activity can reduce blood pressure further.

If these lifestyle changes and choices don't work, medications should be added. The medications have been proven to reduce the risk of stroke, heart disease, and kidney problems. Do not stop taking your medications without talking to your health care practitioner.

What Are High Blood Pressure Medications?

It may take trial and error to find the proper medication or combination of medications that will help control hypertension in each case. It is important to take the medications as prescribed and only discontinue them on the advice of your health care practitioner.

Water Pills (diuretics)

  • Diuretics are used very widely to control mildly high blood pressure, and are often used in combination with other medications.
  • They increase sodium excretion and urine output and decrease blood volume. The sensitivity to the effect of other hormones in your body is decreased.
  • One example of a diuretic ishydrochlorothiazide (HydroDIURIL)
  • The most commonly used diuretics to treat hypertension include:


  • Beta-blockers reduce heart rate and decrease the force of heart contraction by blocking the action of adrenaline receptors. Beta blockers are widely prescribed and effective but can cause increased fatigue and decreased exercise tolerance because they prevent an increased heart rate as a normal response to physical activity.
  • They are also prescribed for people who have associated heart disease, angina, or history of a heart attack.
  • Examples of beta blockers include, carvedilol (Coreg), metoprolol (Lopressor), atenolol (Tenormin)

Calcium Channel Blockers (CCBs)

Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme (ACE) Inhibitors

Angiotensin Receptor Blockers (ARBs)

Blockers of Central Sympathetic (autonomic nervous) System

  • These agents block messages from the brain's autonomic nervous system that contract blood vessels. The autonomic nervous system is the part of the unconscious nervous system of the body that controls heart rate, breathing rate, and other basic functions.
  • These medications relax blood vessels, thus lowering blood pressure.
  • An example is clonidine (Catapres)

Direct Vasodilators

  • Direct vasodilators relax (dilate) the blood vessels to allow blood to flow under lower pressure.
  • These medications are most often used in times of hypertensive crisis and are injected intravenously to quickly lower blood pressure readings.
  • Examples include nitroprusside (Nitropress), and diazoxide (Hyperstat).
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/30/2017

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